German Advertising Companies Accuse Apple of Antitrust Abuse

A group of Germany’s largest media, tech, and advertising companies have accused Apple of antitrust abuse as it introduces changes to the privacy settings of iPhones that they say will harm the ads market, Financial Times reported.

According to Financial Times, nine industry associations, representing companies including Facebook and Axel Springer, the owner of Bild, Die Welt and Insider, filed a complaint on Monday with Germany’s competition regulator.

The New York Times has a detailed article about some of the changes coming when Apple releases iOS 14.5. The thing that is causing advertising companies (and the platforms and games that rely on them for data) to be so angry with Apple is a feature that is absolutely fantastic for users who value their privacy.

The new App Tracking Transparency feature will show a pop-up notification that iPhone users will see when an app wants to track them. It says: Allow [name of app] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites? There is a space on the notification for the company that wants to track the user to attempt to explain itself.

The best part is that the App Tracking Transparency feature gives the user control over whether or not they want a specific app to track them (and potentially create financial gain off the user’s data). To prevent that from happening, all the user has to do is tap the text that says: Ask App not to Track.

There is a common refrain from advertising companies, and the platforms who rely on them, who desperately need to track users in order for the ad company and platform to make money. In December of 2020, Facebook purchased a series of full-page newspaper ads to complain about Apple. At the time, Facebook claimed that not allowing Facebook to track users data would be “devastating to small businesses.”

The German advertising complaint against Apple is also ridiculous. They are predicting that the change will result in “a 60 percent fall in advertising revenues for app developers, as the changes make it harder for third parties to gather the data they need,”

Personally, I am on Apple’s side in this argument. Companies that never bothered to ask people for permission to not only track them across websites and apps, but also to scoop up their data and give it to third parties, are predators. The sneaky way they did this clearly shows that they knew people would not say “yes” to those requests.

Next, they stupidly based the majority of their income on the erroneous concept that people would either never know what was happening, or that they would never be given the opportunity to opt-out. Since then certain countries, and some U.S. states, have created privacy restrictions that prevent greedy companies from grabbing user’s data. Apple’s iOS 14.5 is one more tool towards making the internet safer for people to use.