French Regulators Say the Upcoming iOS Tracking Permission Feature Is Not an Antitrust Concern

Mathieu Rosemain and Foo Yun Chee, Reuters:

The head of the watchdog, Isabelle de Silva, said she had worked closely with France’s CNIL data privacy regulator in deciding to reject the request to suspend the feature.

She said CNIL estimated the pop-up box put in place by Apple could benefit users in an ever-more complex online advertising environment, and was presented in clear and unbiased way, as requested by the European Union’s GDPR data protection rules.


Still, the watchdog said it would continue investigating whether Apple favours its own services and products, with a decision expected by early next year at the latest.

This is the permission prompt coming with iOS 14.5. It is as good to see French regulators affirm its helpfulness as it is to see them reject advertisers’ whining.

On a related note, Apple has recently published privacy labels for its own apps on its website and in the App Store. It is pretty wild to compare some categories of apps. For example, Apple’s Weather app collects location and search data, of course, but it is not linked to users — nothing in the app is linked. But if you poke around the App Store for other weather apps, you will find that most of the big names — the Weather Network, ClimaCell’s Weather Assistant, AccuWeather, and the Weather Channel, to name just a few — all use your location and other identifiers to “track you across apps and websites owned by other companies”, in Apple’s language. Notable exceptions include Carrot Weather and Environment Canada’s WeatherCAN app.

Translation is another example. Apple and Microsoft both say that their translation apps do not link any collected data to users; Google Translate is happy to link all sorts of collected data to individual users.

These privacy labels need some work. I desperately wish to know with which companies my data is being shared. I suspect that, for many big-name apps, the list would be unwieldy and embarrassing.