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French Lobby Hits Apple With Antitrust Complaint Over Personalized Ads

 |  March 9, 2021

France Digitale, a French start-up lobby group, filed a complaint against Apple with the nation’s privacy regulator, arguing that the iPhone maker’s iOS 14 mobile operating system may be in breach of European Union rules.

The campaign group, which has around 2,000 members, filed a seven-page complaint, seen by CNBC, with the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés on Tuesday, March 9.

It argues that Apple may be collecting user data for ad tracking services without explicitly asking permission, and it is calling on the CNIL to investigate. Specifically, it thinks that Apple has its “Personalized Ads” option on by default on iPhones with iOS 14 installed. Apple did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

“Our suspicion is that this is a very severe breach of our privacy regulations,” France Digitale CEO Nicolas Brien told CNBC, adding that Apple could be breaching Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Electronic Privacy Directive, also known as the e-Privacy directive.

“Our problem here is that you don’t get the choice to consent,” said Brien. “It’s automatically on and that’s strictly forbidden by GDPR and e-Privacy.”

France Digitale has also criticized Apple for its App Store practices in recent weeks, claiming that they harm start-ups.