Apple Scores Legal Win in France Over App-Privacy Changes

Bill Mount

France’s competition regulator rejected a plea from advertising companies and publishers to block Apple Inc.’s plan to restrict tracking of individuals’ mobile-app usage. In a potential blow to smaller companies hoping to block big-tech rivals’ privacy initiatives on antitrust grounds, the French regulator on Wednesday said that Apple’s plan to […]

France’s competition regulator rejected a plea from advertising companies and publishers to block Apple Inc.’s plan to restrict tracking of individuals’ mobile-app usage.

In a potential blow to smaller companies hoping to block big-tech rivals’ privacy initiatives on antitrust grounds, the French regulator on Wednesday said that Apple’s plan to require apps to obtain consent from users to track them “doesn’t appear to be abusive.”

“We can’t intervene just because there might be a negative impact for companies in the ecosystem,” said Isabelle de Silva, head of France’s competition authority, at a press conference. “At this stage, we haven’t found flagrant examples of discrimination.”

The authority said, however, that it plans to pursue an in-depth investigation to determine whether Apple’s changes could be regarded as “self-preferencing” by imposing stricter rules on third-party apps than it does on itself. That investigation could stretch to next year, Ms. de Silva said.

Wednesday’s decision removes one source of doubt over Apple’s plans, announced last year, to require apps on its smartphones and tablets to get opt-in permission from users before collecting their advertising identifiers, unique strings of letters and numbers that companies use to identify individuals in order to show them targeted ads and monitor how ad campaigns performed.

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