The French lobbying group France Digitale, representing digital entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, complained about Apple’s ATT in a seven-page appeal addressed to the French regulator CNIL on Tuesday. The paper claims that ATT “is a very severe breach” of European privacy regulations as it shares user data without their consent.
The document, obtained by Reuters, states that Apple’s own platform is launching targeted ads, using people’s personal data by default, while it has introduced a mandatory permission request to collect user data for app developers.
According to the complaint, users are not properly notified of the way their data is used when the collected identifying information is reportedly shared with affiliated companies.
According to EU data privacy legislation (General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR), all digital companies, platforms and developers are obliged to ask for such permission from users.
“Our problem here is that you don’t get the choice to consent. It’s automatically on and that’s strictly forbidden by GDPR and e-Privacy,” France Digitale CEO Nicolas Brien told CNBC on Tuesday.
The Cupertino giant has refuted the accusations in a statement to The Hill, saying that data security and transparency “are fundamental pillars” of Apple’s philosophy.
“The allegations in the complaint are patently false and will be seen for what they are, a poor attempt by those who track users to distract from their own actions and mislead regulators and policymakers,” the Apple statement reads.
Apple added that its own ad tools eliminate the need to track individual users in apps, as they group users by similar characteristics, such as downloaded apps, age, country or city of residence and gender, and provide the advertiser with information about the group, rather than about an individual.
Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) tool is reportedly set to force app developers to ask users for permission to track their activity on third-party apps and sites. The company justified the move by the desire to give users the choice of whether they wish to be tracked.
The move was criticized by some tech companies, including Facebook, who claimed that these updates could harm small businesses that rely on targeted ads, obtained by tracking user activity on the web.
Apple’s distributing platform for apps has also caused adverse reactions. As the App Store is the only way to sell apps to users, software developers claim that the tech giant is forcing them to accept its terms and determining unfair price for distribution services.
Earlier this month, Britain’s regulatory body, the UK Competition and Market Authorities (CMA), launched an investigation against Apple over complaints that the company violates competition laws by “using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps.”