Apple Gets France’s Okay for App Tracking Restrictions, Still Faces Probe

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The EU and Silicon Valley’s major tech firms don’t always see eye to eye, but when it comes to privacy, Apple just made one French connection.

On Wednesday, France’s competition regulator tossed out a request by advertisers and publishers that it stop the company’s plan to force apps to obtain user consent before tracking them.

Not Out of Les Bois Yet

Last year, Apple said it would begin to require apps on its smartphones and tablets to get permission before collecting someone’s advertising data.

That announcement drew ire from everyone from small developers to Facebook (which took out a full-page attack ad in the NYT). The coalition said the move would make it harder to make money from personalized ads and would hurt retailers.

Yesterday, France’s regulator rejected their plea outright.

  • “We can’t intervene just because there might be a negative impact for companies in the ecosystem,” said Isabelle de Silva, who heads the Autorité de la concurrence.
  • “At this stage, we haven’t found flagrant examples of discrimination,” she added.

But Apple isn’t off the hook entirely. France said it investigate whether Apple’s switch could be considered “self-preferencing” by imposing stricter rules on third-party apps than it does on itself.

What have you done for me lately? Apple’s taken other steps so as not to appear the big meanie: last year it gave a break to smaller developers, reducing the App store cut it takes from developers with less than $1 million in revenue to 15% from 30%. That pushed Google to follow suit this week, when it made the same change to its Android Play Store.

the takeaway

Wise words to future advertisers: learn how to ask nicely.