Apple hit with German antitrust complaint

Apple hit with German antitrust complaint
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The German Advertising Federation filed an antitrust complaint on Monday against Apple over the tech giant’s rollout of its App Tracking Transparency feature. 

The ZAW, the advertising federation, filed the complaint with a German competition regulator, arguing Apple is abusing its market power and violating antitrust law through the launch of its antitracking feature, according to the federation’s press release

Apple is expected to launch its new feature through an operating system update this week. The feature will require apps to gain users' permission before tracking them across the web, limiting the reach of targeted ads. 

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The industry associations that filed the complaint in Germany argue that the update will give Apple “one-sided advantages.” 

“With these unilaterally imposed measures, Apple effectively excludes all competitors from processing commercially relevant data in the Apple ecosystem. At the same time, however, the group is excluding its own (advertising) services from the planned changes and collecting considerable amounts of user data itself,” the ZAW said in the release. 

Apple defended the company's anti-tracking feature in a statement responding to the German complaint.

"A user’s data belongs to them and they should get to decide whether to share their data and with whom. With iOS 14, we’re giving users the choice whether or not they want to allow apps to track them by linking their information with data from third parties for the purpose of advertising, or sharing their information with data brokers," the company said in a statement.

"These rules apply equally to all developers — including Apple — and we have received strong support from regulators and privacy advocates for this new feature.”

The industry associations that filed the complaint represent companies including Facebook, according to the Financial Times, which first reported on the complaint. 

Facebook, which thrives off selling targeted ads, has fiercely pushed back on Apple’s new feature, including through an ad campaign that branded the update as harmful to small businesses. 

Apple has also faced challenges over the privacy update in other countries. 

In France, a competition watchdog last month rejected a challenge from advertising groups over Apple's plans to release the update. 

The watchdog said Apple’s feature “did not appear as an abusive practice” and would not call for Apple to suspend the update as an interim measure. The watchdog said it would continue to investigate the merits of the case. 

Apple delayed the launch of the feature which was first unveiled over the summer and slated to be launched in September. 

The update is now scheduled to be released this week, according to Apple’s latest update released last week.

-Updated 3:27 p.m.