Earlier this week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau France brought an antitrust complaint in the EU against Apple over its planned privacy settings, which will only allow app developers to track users if they explicitly consent.
The U.S. ad industry has made no secret of its opposition to Apple's plans, but the IAB here isn't as eager as its French counterpart to challenge the company on antitrust grounds.
“In the U.S., antitrust is a long, complex, and often cumbersome process that too frequently fails to address pressing competitive needs in a timely manner,” the IAB stated Thursday.
Instead, the group is pushing for what it calls “collective development of technical standards and operating practices by the major browser and OS providers.”
The IAB adds: “This needs to be done together with bodies representing users, with regulation assuring all participants’ compliance, if need be.”
This isn't the first time the industry has suggested it will push for legal restrictions on Apple's new mobile operating system, which will inform consumers when an app wants to track them for ad purposes, and will ask people to either allow or prohibit tracking by that app.
Apple, which originally planned to introduce the setting this autumn, now says it will be available early next year.
Back in August, online ad groups formed a new organization, the “Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media,” in hopes of convincing Google and Apple to reconsider decisions that could limit ad companies' ability to track people across websites and apps. (In Google's case, the plan involves configuring Chrome by 2022 to block cookies set by ad-tech companies and other third parties.)
When the industry announced the new group, Venable attorney Stu Ingis, who will head the legal and policy working group, said ad organizations might push for new legal restrictions on developers of browsers and platforms, if they follow through on plans to restrict tracking.
“If the platforms or browsers are not going to work with the rest of the ecosystem, there's going to need to be regulation,” he told MediaPost at the time.
Despite the industry's talk, it's not at all clear what kind of regulations would require Apple to allow the ad industry to have a say in iPhones' privacy settings.
It's also worth noting that ad industry's desire for regulations seems badly timed, given that the trend in states like California, Maine and Nevada has been to restrict data collection.
In fact, not only did California pass a privacy law in 2018, but state voters appear to be poised to vote in favor of a ballot initiative that would broaden the existing law.
In any event, it seems unlikely that government officials would pass regulations by early next year, which is when Apple's new setting is supposed to roll out.