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Apple’s App Tracking Transparency rules have been under scrutiny by antitrust regulators for some time now, and Italy’s competition watchdog is the latest to investigate the company’s privacy policies.
This follows recent investigations by the European Union, France, and Germany into Apple’s practices, which have raised concerns that the company is unfairly favoring its own apps over those of its competitors.
At the heart of the issue is Apple’s exemption from its own App Tracking Transparency rules. The company used to allow apps to use anonymized tracking IDs to deliver personalized ads, which was a major source of revenue for developers.
However, with the introduction of App Tracking Transparency, developers are required to ask users for permission to use that system. This has upset companies like Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, who predict that the change in policy will cost them billions of dollars per year.
Apple’s own apps, however, are exempt from these rules, which has led to accusations of self-preferencing and anticompetitive behavior.
France’s Competition Authority has already found evidence of such behavior by Apple, and now Italy’s antitrust agency AGCM has opened an investigation into the company for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the apps market.
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Apple’s App Tracking Transparency rules are an essential step in protecting users’ privacy and allowing them to choose what personal data they share with apps.
However, Apple must also subject its own apps to the exact same rules to ensure that it is not unfairly favoring its own commercial division. The company could remove this growing antitrust headache by issuing a clear, unambiguous statement that it will subject itself to the same ATT rules as it requires of third-party apps, including for the App Store app itself.