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Apple's advertising system for monetizing its apps and services is the target of a new complaint in France that has been brought against it by a lobby group representing startups and venture capital firms (via Bloomberg).

apple-personalized-ads@3x.jpg

Submitted on Tuesday by France Digitale to the country's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL), the complaint focuses on an Apple feature called Personalized Advertising, which shows ads in the App Store, Apple News, and the Stocks app, based on a user's data.

The group said it had acted because Apple's system doesn't ask for the user's permission to receive the targeted ads, which are enabled by default. Users are "insufficiently informed about the use and the processing of its personal data," the association wrote in the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg.
"Apple keeps the right to choose who is a 'partner' and who is a 'third party' in an arbitrary manner, a quality which may change over time, without the user being informed of such a change," France Digitale wrote, claiming the company is seeking to use data it collects and uses.
The complaint comes ahead of Apple's planned rollout of a new App Tracking Transparency feature, which will limit how much data that third-party advertising systems can gather about users. Following the release of iOS 14.5, all apps that access an iPhone's ad identifier or IDFA will need to ask a user's permission before tracking is allowed.

The upcoming feature has drawn criticism from Facebook and other advertisers who are concerned that many users will not consent to being tracked across apps for ad personalization purposes. However, App Tracking Transparency is different from Apple's own personalized advertising system, which doesn't track users across apps and doesn't identify users to target its ads. Instead, it relies on the anonymous grouping of users' shared characteristics such as apps downloaded, age, country or city of residence, and gender.

However, that hasn't stopped France Digitale from claiming that it still gives Apple an advantage over third-parties when it comes to iPhone app-based advertising. Apple responded to the complaint in a statement given to Bloomberg:
"The allegations in the complaint are patently false and will be seen for what they are, a poor attempt by those who track users to distract from their own actions and mislead regulators and policymakers. Transparency and control for the user are fundamental pillars of our privacy philosophy, which is why we've made App Tracking Transparency equally applicable to all developers including Apple. Privacy is built into the ads we sell on our platform with no tracking."
French Digitale's legal action follows another complaint against Apple that was filed with France's competition authority by advertising companies and publishers in October 2020.

That complaint argued that the enhanced privacy measures brought about by Apple's Apple Tracking Transparency would be anticompetitive. A ruling by the French watchdog is expected soon, and depending on the outcome, Apple could be forced to leave out its enhanced privacy feature in iOS 14.5 for users in the country.

Article Link: Apple's Personalized Ads System Targeted in Privacy Complaint to French Data Regulator
 
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betterbegood

macrumors 6502
May 21, 2014
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Thinking how you get to choose exactly who you give your cookies to these days I think this is fair. The fact Apple could partner with anyone and you have to suck it up isn't great for the consumer.
 
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Anson_431

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Sep 16, 2016
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I thought the tracking option would be asked when you activate the new device???

Please correct me if I’m wrong
 

Superhai

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Apr 21, 2010
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Why would they stop the implementation in France? As I understood, it’s actually not strict enough to them? If anything it needs to be improved not disabled

The claim that the competition authority has to consider, is if ads on the App Store etc. are anti-competitive. The reasoning being that Apple have more detailed information about the user than a third-party and thus could charge more for ad placements.

To me it sounds like a far stretch, but maybe there is a devil in the details.
 
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neuropsychguy

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Sep 29, 2008
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The group said it had acted because Apple's system doesn't ask for the user's permission to receive the targeted ads, which are enabled by default.

Are they enabled by default? I checked the iPhones in my household and none had the personalized ads turned on. I know that's a setting I've checked on my phone to make sure it's off but I've never checked the setting on the other family members' phones (and know they haven't messed with it).
 
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jumpcutking

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Nov 6, 2020
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It’s true Apple could add this question to when you do an update or get a new phone wizard.

I found it easy enough to disable it tho. Do they share with third parties or do they generate what’s relevant on device? Like the other Siri features.
 

gnomeisland

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2008
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New York, NY
The claim that the competition authority has to consider, is if ads on the App Store etc. are anti-competitive. The reasoning being that Apple have more detailed information about the user than a third-party and thus could charge more for ad placements.

To me it sounds like a far stretch, but maybe there is a devil in the details.
I can at least understand the justification (right or wrong, I can't say) but the conclusion, not allowing better privacy protections, seems . . . myopic to say the least. Wouldn't demanding that Apple give the same notifications as it requires third parties to give be a far, far more reasonable requirement?
 

69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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Are they enabled by default? I checked the iPhones in my household and none had the personalized ads turned on. I know that's a setting I've checked on my phone to make sure it's off but I've never checked the setting on the other family members' phones (and know they haven't messed with it).
If the phones in your household have personalized ads turned off, someone manually did it.
Hmmm. I thought targeted ads were off for apple.
Targeted advertising is on by default. Personalized ads is opt-out. Always has been. There is also a second level of advertising, not on by default but is triggered by agreeing to give the App Store access to your location. Location based ads. I have a particular dislike of how Apple initiates location based ads. It seems unnecessarily deceptive because it doesn't tell you that you're giving permission for ads.

I think most people mistakenly assume Apples advertising platforms are opt-in. They are not.
Details here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202074
 
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GeoStructural

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Oct 8, 2016
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Colombia
These comments are so interesting and bare the soul of how biased you guys are.

Here are two memory pills:

- Facebook used to be PART OF iOS, it literally came integrated and with a dedicated Settings section where you could SYNC your calendar, contacts and photos... What changed?

- Apple used to have an advertising business that failed. After that they became the “privacy” company.

- Apple engages on these intrusive practices on other devices. After the latest big update of my Samsung TV now Apple Music and Apple TV+ are forced on me, they cannot be uninstalled and they keep annoyingly popping up... when I open Music it suggests content I listen to in YouTube Music... isn’t that against their “core”?


 
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az431

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Sep 13, 2008
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Why would I or anyone care what information some third-person stranger collects for marketing purposes as long as the information collected doesn't include one's personal identity? Possession of a database of the habits of tens or hundreds of millions of anonymous individuals by a corporate group of people …? doesn't bother me.

I don't know why you don't care, but if you don't care then feel free to accept it. But it is not for you to decide for other people the boundaries of what is private or not private.
 

bsolar

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Jun 20, 2011
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Why would they stop the implementation in France? As I understood, it’s actually not strict enough to them? If anything it needs to be improved not disabled

That would likely require Apple making its own Targeted Advertising opt-in, which might go against Apple's interests. After all, the likely reason Targeted Advertising is not currently opt-in and it's enabled by default is that most users would otherwise not enable it when explicitly prompted about it.
 

Mascots

macrumors 68000
Sep 5, 2009
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That would likely require Apple making its own Targeted Advertising opt-in, which might go against Apple's interests. After all, the likely reason Targeted Advertising is not currently opt-in and it's enabled by default is that most users would otherwise not enable it when explicitly prompted about it.
In my opinion, this kind of general demographic targeting is more acceptable (and different) than the aggressive tracking based targeting that Facebook and some other advertisers put in place.

I don’t mind a platform serving me advertisements which are more relevant to me based the information that I offer them, but it’s when they cross that line and build intricate and specific profiles with info and habits beyond what I’d reasonably offer or take that information to sell to others that is rather detestable. For example, I’d like to be presented with apps that might interest me based on my purchases, but really don’t enjoy repeatedly seeing the exact product whose webpage I opened (once and accidentally) for weeks at a time or very specific political advertisements which are targeted based on my race, demographic, and age all at once.
 

bsolar

macrumors 65816
Jun 20, 2011
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In my opinion, this kind of general demographic targeting is more acceptable (and different) than the aggressive tracking based targeting that Facebook and some other advertisers put in place.

That's for sure, but I don't think there is such an option for third-parties: they are opt-in no matter the kind of targeting they do.

From the point of view of Apple it makes sense since they cannot verify that the tracking is ultimately "anonymized" by the third-party, but note that from the point of view of an end-user that's also true for Apple: they cannot verify that Apple's tracking is ultimately really "anonymized" in demographic targeting as they claim.

It's ultimately a matter of trust and while I agree Apple is far more trustworthy than Facebook, I'd still rather have their targeting being opt-in too.
 

Tech198

macrumors P6
Mar 21, 2011
15,916
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Australia, Perth
Stop opening Pandora's box, just to make voices heard.. If you don't like ads just disable the option with one fell swoop

No argument then over Apple changes without notice :)
This is soo much easier on the Mac where we just "know" limit ad services is enabled.
 

I7guy

macrumors Penryn
Nov 30, 2013
27,434
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Gotta be in it to win it
If the phones in your household have personalized ads turned off, someone manually did it.

Targeted advertising is on by default. Personalized ads is opt-out. Always has been. There is also a second level of advertising, not on by default but is triggered by agreeing to give the App Store access to your location. Location based ads. I have a particular dislike of how Apple initiates location based ads. It seems unnecessarily deceptive because it doesn't tell you that you're giving permission for ads.

I think most people mistakenly assume Apples advertising platforms are opt-in. They are not.
Details here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202074
Ah interesting, thanks for pointing that out. For me, I don't care if apple delivers advertising content personalized or targeting. I know my information is not going anywhere -- which to me is what is important.
 
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Suckfest 9001

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May 31, 2015
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Yet another investigation that holds apple accountable for bad business. Why is this setting buried in Settings and enabled by default? These things should be opt in which is the standard all other apps are held to. This setting doesn’t even show up in the Search results which is a pretty sad attempt to hide it
A798AC94-31C1-4BE6-91E6-2EF4B4A9C3D6.jpeg


Looking forward to the results. :)
 
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69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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Ah interesting, thanks for pointing that out. For me, I don't care if apple delivers advertising content personalized or targeting. I know my information is not going anywhere -- which to me is what is important.
In the general sense specifically regarding advertising, that sentence rings true. In a literal sense regarding your data as a whole, it is not true. Apple shares your data with service providers, partners, and others if they deem it necessary. They do prohibit the shared data from being used by the 3rd parties for their own marketing purposes. So there is that.

My problem with ads is they annoy the crap out of me and interrupt my flow on the cyber. Regardless, I've never understood all the handwringing about companies using anonymized data (not actual personal data) to sell ad space. We generally don't even bat an eyelash when our personal data is actually bought and sold by data brokers on a daily basis. When I rank offenses involving my data, anonymizing it to sell ad space is pretty low. I understand others feel a certain type of way about it. Just not really sure why they do. Erbody be different I guess.
 

GeoStructural

macrumors 6502a
Oct 8, 2016
765
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Colombia
Ah interesting, thanks for pointing that out. For me, I don't care if apple delivers advertising content personalized or targeting. I know my information is not going anywhere -- which to me is what is important.
It is indirectly going to third-party companies that paid for such ad...
 

I7guy

macrumors Penryn
Nov 30, 2013
27,434
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Gotta be in it to win it
Quoted from the article:
"Apple keeps the right to choose who is a 'partner' and who is a 'third party' in an arbitrary manner, a quality which may change over time, without the user being informed of such a change," France Digitale wrote, claiming the company is seeking to use data it collects and uses.

So this is the crux of the issue? Greed?
 
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