Apple’s plan to force apps to gain additional consent from users before tracking them online has been slammed by a consortium of European advertising trade bodies – led by IAB Europe – amid warnings that it not only potentially breaches GDPR but it could also have a major impact on the app publishing industry.
Last week, Apple revealed that under its new operating system – iOS 14 – apps will be required to show an additional pop-up screen, asking extra permission from users before they can track them, effectively asking them to consent twice.
Now, IAB Europe has joined forces with 15 other trade bodies including Fedma, the European Publishers’ Council, the French Mobile Marketing Association and News Media Europe to rifle off an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook urging a rethink.
The letter argues: “The opt-in pop-up presented by Apple does not comply with GDPR information requirements regarding the collection of consent for personalised ads.”
And, due to the fact that the proposed pop-up appears to be not widely customisable by the app developer, “it cannot be used by the digital advertising sector to comply with GDPR requirements applicable to online advertising”.
Meanwhile, it states that “the pre-defined and non-customisable design settings of the pop-up carry a high risk of user refusal… and there is no option for the publisher to request consent in the future. Additionally, publishers don’t have the opportunity to highlight or explain the value of this request, namely the monetisation of content that can be provided at no cost to users. These settings could have a strong negative impact on advertising revenues of iOS app publishers as well as on mobile marketing stakeholders”.
The plan also raises competition issues, the letter argues, especially for those companies which specialise in mobile app promotion and measurement.
The letter adds: “The ability for these companies to conduct businesses and provide their services could be severely restricted, while Apple’s services would not be in scope of this new pop-up concerning the personal data for their own advertising purpose. As a result, Apple advertising services such as Apple Search Ads on the App Store will strengthen their competitive advantage.”
The letter concludes by asking Apple to work in consultation and collaboration with the media industry on to “define, develop, deploy, and evolve standards that support privacy-centric addressability, including an initial meeting with industry stakeholders in July 2020”.
However, the irony of the move will not be lost on some, especially given criticism that the IAB has been slow to act in the past over data protection concerns of the companies it represents.
For instance, the trade body’s British arm, IAB UK, took over six months to commit to bring advertisers in line with legislation covering realtime bidding, following an investigation by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.
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