German Cartel Regulator Probes Apple’s Tracking Framework

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Jun 14, 2022

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On Tuesday, the cartel office announced it is checking to see if the company’s privacy rules hurt competition.

Self-Preferencing Rules

Germany’s competition body has said it is investigating Apple privacy rules for third-party apps. The Federal Cartel Office researches whether or not the policy grants Apple preferential treatment or harms its competition.

“The Bundeskartellamt has initiated a proceeding against the technology company Apple to review under competition law its tracking rules and the App Tracking Transparency Framework,” it said in a statement. 

“In particular, Apple’s rules have raised the initial suspicion of self-preferencing and/or impediment of other companies, which will be examined in the proceeding.”

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency for iPhones in its iOS 14 update. It forces third-party apps to ask for permission from users before tracking their behavior for advertising purposes.

The cartel office says it has “reason to doubt” that Apple applies the same rules to its apps and services. 

Major tech companies have come under even more increased antitrust scrutiny lately. Last week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) expressed concern over the ATT framework. However, it opted for a probe into the firm’s “stranglehold” on web browsers and its restrictive App Store policy for cloud gaming providers

Rules are Uniform

In a reaction, the Big Tech company denies that it is exempt from its rules.

“These rules apply equally to all developers — including Apple — and we have received strong support from regulators and privacy advocates for this feature,” the company said in a statement. 

“Apple holds itself to a higher privacy standard than almost any other company by providing users with an affirmative choice as to whether or not they would like personalized ads at all.”

The company committed to working with the FCO to address its concerns.

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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