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European Union regulators and Silicon Valley’s major tech firms don’t always see eye to eye. But when it comes to privacy, Apple just made a French connection.

On Wednesday, France’s competition regulator tossed out a request made by advertisers and publishers to block Apple's plan to restrict tracking of individual's mobile app usage.

Not Out of Les Bois Yet
A quick background — last year Apple said it would begin to require apps on its smartphones and tablets to get permission before collecting someone’s so-called "advertising identifiers."

That announcement drew ire from both small developers and Facebook (which took out full-page attack ads in major papers). The anti-Apple coalition said the move would make it harder to make money from personalized ads, hurting retailers in the process:

Yesterday, France’s regulator rejected their plea outright:

  • “We can’t intervene just because there might be a negative impact for companies in the ecosystem,” said Isabelle de Silva, who heads the Autorité de la Concurrence.
  • “At this stage, we haven’t found flagrant examples of discrimination,” she added.

But Apple isn’t off the hook entirely. France said it will investigate whether Apple’s switch could be considered “self-preferencing” by imposing stricter rules on third-party apps than it does on itself.

What have you done for me lately? Apple has taken other steps so as not to appear the big meanie: Last year it gave a break to smaller developers, reducing the App Store cut it takes from developers with less than $1 million in revenue to 15% from 30%. That pushed Google to follow suit this week, when it made the same change to its Android Play Store.

The Takeaway: Expect more jockeying to come in the arena of big tech.

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