Apple slapped with antitrust complaint in Germany over new iPhone privacy settings

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Apple faces an antitrust complaint over new iPhone privacy settings from a group of Germany’s largest and most powerful media and advertising companies.

The German Advertising Federation, called ZAW, said on Monday that it had filed an antitrust complaint with the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, which confirmed to MarketWatch that it had received a complaint against Apple
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The complainants, which include eight associations in the media and communications industry, ZAW said, allege that Apple abuses its market power and violates antitrust law through new changes to iPhone privacy settings.

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The changes, called App Tracking Transparency, are set to take effect with the iOS 14.5 software update expected on Monday. After the update, apps will require users’ consent to track them for advertising purposes, which is expected to hurt the digital advertising industry as users opt out.

“With these unilaterally imposed measures, Apple effectively excludes all competitors from processing commercially relevant data in the Apple ecosystem,” ZAW said in a press release that has been translated. “At the same time, however, the group is excluding its own (advertising) services from the planned changes and collecting considerable amounts of user data itself.”

The news was first reported by the Financial Times, which noted that Facebook
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and Axel Springer—the media conglomerate that owns Bild and Insider—are among the companies represented by ZAW and the industry associations.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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