Personal data: the French Competition Authority rejects requests for conservatory measures against Apple

13/04/2021

The French Competition Authority had been asked by several online advertising companies to prohibit a feature of the iOS 14 operating system that allows users to limit the collection of their data.

This tool developed by Apple is based on the introduction of an obligation to solicit the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) for applications available on the App Store that would like to track the activity of their users on third-party platforms.

Thus, application publishers must, upon download, display a warning message to the user, who may or may not give his consent to the tracking of his activity.

If the user refuses, the application is unable to profile the user, and therefore to collect the data on which the targeted advertising is based.

This feature is problematic for the advertising sector, since many of these applications are financed by targeted advertising, made possible by activity tracking.

It should be noted that applications can still display advertising on their platforms without the user’s consent. The advertising will simply not be based on the user’s profile. However, this is not enough for the applicants, who see in the ATT an imbalance, for a sector already subject to the constraints of the RGPD and the e-Privacy Directive.

The French Competition Authority refused to grant the request for the outright withdrawal of the ATT.

In its decision, the French Competition Authority considers that “Apple’s decision to set up a consent collection system complementary to the one set up by other online advertising players, did not appear to be an abusive practice”, and “that a company, even if it is in a dominant position or can be considered as a structuring platform, has a freedom of principle to set rules for access to its services”.

A respite for Apple, while the French Competition Authority continues to investigate the merits of the case before verifying that the ATT does not lead to a form of discrimination, or self-preference, if, for example, “Apple applied, without justification, more restrictive rules to third-party operators than those it applies to itself for similar operations”. A hope for the advertising industry.

By the IP/IT team of UGGC Law Firm.

Sources: https://www.autoritedelaconcurrence.fr/fr/communiques-de-presse/ciblage-publicitairemise-en-place-par-apple-de-la-sollicitation-att-lautorite

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2021/03/17/apple-l-autorite-de-la-concurrence-ne-suspend-pas-l-outil-visant-a-limiter-la-collecte-de-donnees-publicitaires_6073459_3234.html

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