Apple’s advertising platform: French data protectionists check missing opt-in


France takes a closer look at Apple’s own advertising practices. According to an internal document, the country’s data protection authority sees possible problems with the lack of opt-in for Apple’s personalized advertising: Apple’s approach “suggests the lack of a declaration of consent,” as is the case Politico quoted from the authority’s document.

Third-party iPhone apps will in future have to obtain permission from the user for advertising tracking. So far, however, the opt-out has remained on Apple’s own advertising platform: personalized advertising is active by default. For example, Apple uses Apple ID account information such as age, gender and place of residence (zip code) to classify users into certain segments – the purchase history in the App Store and iTunes Store is also included. Data protection is built into its own advertising platform, emphasized Apple in a statement to Politico – With the opt-out for the “limited use of its own (first-party) data”, the company has committed itself to a higher standard.

According to an initial assessment by the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), Apple’s definition of advertising tracking may be too narrow, Politico reports. With advertising tracking, Apple describes cross-provider tracking for advertising purposes, including the transfer of data to data dealers – but not the display of personalized advertising by collecting data on its own platform.

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According to the report, the internal document of the data protection authority dates from last December, the assessment was made during a cartel investigation by France’s competition authority. The latter has now decided that Apple’s tracking opt-in for third-party apps, which will soon be mandatory, does not constitute an abusive trading practice and may be implemented in France. But they want to check whether Apple prefers itself.

Following a complaint from a startup association, the CNIL is currently investigating whether Apple’s advertising platform violates the GDPR. Apple rejected the accusation in early March as “obviously wrong” that it was a “pathetic attempt at distraction” by “those who track users”.


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