Apple is facing its first governmental complaint over its advertising practices after the French competition authority confirmed that it has officially launched an antitrust investigation against the tech giant.
In a translation of a statement on its website, the French watchdog claimed that Apple allegedly “abused its dominant position by implementing discriminatory, non-objective, and non-transparent conditions for the use of user data for advertising purposes.”
The investigation stems from complaints made by four online advertising groups in France in 2020, which alleged that Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature didn’t meet EU privacy rules.
The feature, which was a privacy update, allows users to control which apps could track them and report data back, which could be used for personalized advertising. According to advertisers’ complaints, the program likely affected several markets for advertising services.
In addition, they alleged that Apple wasn’t playing by its own rules as its own iOS apps, unlike third-party apps, did not automatically trigger an ATT prompt asking users whether it could use their data.
Although the French regulator then rejected a request for “interim measures” to be taken against Apple and to block the use of the feature, it said it would look into the issue.
In a statement distributed to various media outlets, Apple denied the allegations and said that it “holds its advertising business to a higher standard of privacy than it requires for any other developer by prompting users for explicit permission before delivering any personalized ads.”
The complaint is the first major governmental act against the U.S. tech giant over its advertising practices. However, Germany, Italy, and Poland have also opened similar investigations.