France's online ad lobbies file antitrust complaint against Apple


By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Four French online advertising lobbies have filed an antitrust complaint against Apple AAPL.O over changes the iPhone maker will make to privacy features within the next version of its mobile operating system, they said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the new Apple operating software, iOS 14, iPhone owners will be asked whether they're ready to allow installed mobile apps to gather a key identifier used to define campaign ads and send targeted ads.

The four associations - IAB France, MMAF, SRI and UDECAM - said the changes brought by Apple did not meet European Union privacy rules. They added Apple failed to hold itself to the same standards, as it would still be able to send targeted ads to iOS users without asking them for prior consent.

"This case is not about privacy; it is about Apple abusing its market power to distort competition," the four associations said in a joint statement.

The opt-in permission is to be registered via a pop-up box from early 2021.

"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," Apple said in a statement.

"We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and support the European Union's leadership in protecting privacy with strong laws such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)," it said.

The new iOS 14 privacy features could lead to severe revenue decline for publishers and drive many ad tech vendors out of business, the four associations said.

The joint complaint was filed with France's antitrust competition authority. A spokeswoman for the authority confirmed the regulator had received the complaint, which is now being reviewed.

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

((Mathieu.Rosemain@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 4949 5182; Reuters Messaging: mathieu.rosemain.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; Twitter: https://twitter.com/MathieuRosemain))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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