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Apple faces French antitrust complaint over iPhone privacy changes
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Advertising companies and publishers have filed a complaint against Apple Inc. with France’s competition authority, arguing that privacy changes the smartphone maker plans to roll out are anticompetitive.
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Starting in early 2021, Apple’s operating software will require apps to get opt-in permission from users to collect their advertising identifier, a key number used to deliver targeted ads and check how ad campaigns performed.
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The companies behind the complaint, brought through a group of trade associations, say few users will agree to be tracked, making it harder for companies from game-makers to news publishers to sell personalized ads and tough for the middlemen in those transactions.
The case is one of the first legal challenges to online-privacy measures on antitrust grounds.
“At the highest level, this is a novel case — a truly important case — because it deals with the use of privacy as a sort of fig leaf for anticompetitive conduct,” said Damien Geradin, the competition lawyer representing the coalition of industry groups, including the Interactive Advertising Bureau France. “We think that this is the sort of thing that will arise increasingly in the future.”