Antitrust probe accuses Apple of favoring its own apps over others

Apple once again finds itself on the receiving end of an investigation over the way its App Store functions. This time it’s Italian authorities investigating how it handles privacy.

Italy’s competition authority, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), claims that Apple applied more stringent rules to third-party apps than it does its own.

The same watchdog also believes that Apple requires that apps from third-party developers use more prompts to ask for consent to handle data than it does for its own apps.

Double standards

This all relates to App Tracking Transparency, or ATT. App Tracking Transparency requires that apps ask a user’s permission before they can collect data on users that could then be used to keep tabs on their activities between apps.

The Italian watchdog claims that the wording of prompts used by third-party developers is stronger than that of Apple’s own apps, reports Forbes (opens in new tab).

“The watchdog said the double standard, which has been in place since April 2021, means users of non-Apple apps receive more prominent prompts needed to secure consent for data tracking from third-party developers than it does from Apple’s products,” the report notes. “Third-party app developers are also less able to profile users and monitor the success of ad campaigns than Apple as the tech giant gives them access to less comprehensive tools—that give less information—than it uses itself, AGCM said.”

For its part, Apple told Forbes that its ATT rules have received strong support from regulators and “apply equally to all developers,” including itself.

Apple argues that ATT helps put people in control of what data is collected on them, but critics say that it prevents important data points from being used to help provide targeted ads. However, a recent report suggests that the impact on ad businesses hasn’t been quite as catastrophic as first feared.



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