'Sign in With Apple' target of Justice Department antitrust probe

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 23
The U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly probing Apple's "Sign in With Apple" feature as part of a broader antitrust investigation, following complaints from developers.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


Specifically, antitrust investigators are looking into whether the "Sign in With Apple" button and other App Store policies "make it difficult for users to switch to a rival device maker," The Information reported Tuesday.

Apple introduced the "Sign in with Apple" feature as a privacy-respecting option in iOS 13, allowing users to create an account on an app without sharing their email address with developers. Apple also started requiring apps that have account sign in options from Google, Facebook, and Twitter to include "Sign in with Apple" as well. The only exceptions are apps that exclusively use third-party accounts for authentication.

Reportedly, that requirement has made some App Store developers unhappy. Complaints filed by developers in 2020 are now under investigation by antitrust regulators, sources told The Information.

Representatives from two iPhone apps said they removed all sign in buttons "because want to include Apple's and potentially lose out on gaining information about their customers." Those developers called Apple's sign-in option a way to cut apps off from their users and claimed it was a method to entrench its own control over the App Store.

When it first debuted the button, Apple also asked developers to display it above other sign in options. It has since changed its policy on that.

At least one developer has also publicly complained about the Sign in With Apple feature. Back in 2019, Blix filed a complaint claiming that the requirement was unfair and likened it to "coercion." It also said that the button could be used as a weapon against developers in other disputes.

The probe appears to be broader than "Sign In with Apple," however. The body is examining Apple's control over its app marketplace, the commission it charges on app and in-app purchases, and whether it restricts third-party app access to systems like Location Services that its own apps are able to use.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment to The Information, but said that Sign in With Apple was meant to give its users a privacy-focused alternative to account authentication options offered by other companies.

The Department of Justice has not yet decided whether to bring a case against Apple. Sources say that decision could take months.

Apple first came under investigation by the Department of Justice in June 2020, following antitrust complaints from developers.

In addition to the scrutiny of Apple, the DOJ has also filed a lawsuit against Google for its search business. Facebook is also facing antitrust lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 59
    Oh hell no. I don't want to share my email address to anyone. If I want to buy a product, I want my transaction to be as anonymous as possible. 
    jony0Anilu_777CuJoYYCDogpersonjdb8167Detnatormwhitepichaeltwokatmewaderutter
  • Reply 2 of 59
    rcfarcfa Posts: 936member
    Ridiculous! And where’s the antitrust investigation for sign-in with Google, Facebook, etc.?
    sdw2001dewmerob53jony0flyingdpCuJoYYCDogpersonjdb8167Detnatormwhite
  • Reply 3 of 59
    I love Sign in with Apple.  Use it all the time. I don't want to give developers access to my entire Facebook or Google contacts. I suspect that Facebook and Google pay developers for this personal data, and Apple doesn't, so developers don't like it.

    Apple is trying to protect my privacy. They should be applauded, not investigated.
    jony0bageljoeyflyingdpCuJoYYCDogpersonjdb8167Detnatorfotoformatwilliamlondonpichael
  • Reply 4 of 59
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,380member
    I got rid of FB and Twitter so I like it.  And the whole thing is ridiculous.  They require they be included when sign in with google or Facebook is present in order to be included in their store.  So?  LOL isn’t that MORE competition to those two monopolies?  
    jony0Anilu_777jdb8167Detnatorpichaeln2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 59
    How about if Apple shutdown Apps store for the rest of developers, private and only for Apple customers and Apple apps. I wonder if they will cry 
    pichaelwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 59
    rcfa said:
    Ridiculous! And where’s the antitrust investigation for sign-in with Google, Facebook, etc.?
    What you posted makes zero sense. The investigation is concerned with Sign In With Apple not working on non-Apple devices, and those login providers work on any device. 

    To clarify, this doesn't mean that there is an antitrust violation here, only that your post is devoid of any coherent thought. 
    williamlondonfrantisekbyronl
  • Reply 7 of 59

    netrox said:
    Oh hell no. I don't want to share my email address to anyone. If I want to buy a product, I want my transaction to be as anonymous as possible. 
    And how is that relevant here?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 59

    nealc5 said:
    I love Sign in with Apple.  Use it all the time. I don't want to give developers access to my entire Facebook or Google contacts. I suspect that Facebook and Google pay developers for this personal data, and Apple doesn't, so developers don't like it.

    Apple is trying to protect my privacy. They should be applauded, not investigated.
    Antitrust law has nothing to do with privacy, and the fact that Apple furthers your personal interests doesn’t mean the justice system should ignore violations of antitrust and other laws. 
    MplsPwilliamlondonavon b7byronl
  • Reply 9 of 59
    Ok so let me get this straight. Sign in with Google and with Facebook is somehow ok but if Apple gives the OPTION of signing in with Apple that’s a PROBLEM???? Wtf is this crap!
    CuJoYYCDogpersonjdb8167pichaeln2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 59
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,460member
    Amazing the amount of whining app developers out there.  This is a secure way that benefits Apple's "CUSTOMERS".  When does that matter?

    The iPhone is a self-contained widget.  Apple owns the hardware and software that runs on it.  If you don't like it, leave.  There are other players that might better suit you.
    Dogpersonjdb8167fotoformatwilliamlondonpichaeln2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 59
    This was so predictable that the only mystery is why it took so long. 
    williamlondonpichaelwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 59
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,883member
    I'm not sure I get this - the complaint supposedly originates not from a monopoly stance but from Sign In with Apple making it "difficult for users to switch to a rival device maker?" Just how does it do that?

    And as for the developers that removed buttons so they wouldn't lose information about apple customers, essentially they are saying they didn't want to give up their ability to harvest data. How does that harm the customers? 
    CuJoYYCRayz2016Detnatorwilliamlondonpichaeltwokatmewn2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 59
    flydog said:

    nealc5 said:
    I love Sign in with Apple.  Use it all the time. I don't want to give developers access to my entire Facebook or Google contacts. I suspect that Facebook and Google pay developers for this personal data, and Apple doesn't, so developers don't like it.

    Apple is trying to protect my privacy. They should be applauded, not investigated.
    Antitrust law has nothing to do with privacy, and the fact that Apple furthers your personal interests doesn’t mean the justice system should ignore violations of antitrust and other laws. 
    If the “Justice” department would just focus on the people STEALING personal info, there would be no need for Sign In with Apple, would there?
    CuJoYYCDogpersonbestkeptsecretJanNLwilliamlondonpichaeltwokatmewn2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 59
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,822member
    MplsP said:
    I'm not sure I get this - the complaint supposedly originates not from a monopoly stance but from Sign In with Apple making it "difficult for users to switch to a rival device maker?" Just how does it do that?

    And as for the developers that removed buttons so they wouldn't lose information about apple customers, essentially they are saying they didn't want to give up their ability to harvest data. How does that harm the customers? 
    It makes the ecosystem more desirable. It’s the same mentality pushing this as that of the advocates of sin taxes on tobacco, liquor and sugar. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 59
    Years long, “Sign with Google......Facebook.........Twitter........”, was the most normal way in the world to sign in .
    But when  Apple recently started to use “Sign with Apple”,  it became immediately a wake up call for the antitrust investigators........
    applguyDogpersonpichaeln2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 59
    If I understand this right Apple just needs to make Sign In with Apple available on Android and all will be good. Developers will still be unhappy as they won’t be able to harvest and sell user data. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 59
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,791member
    No one is forcing people to “sign in w Apple”. I have not used that option at all. 
    pichael
  • Reply 18 of 59
    Above_The_GodsAbove_The_Gods Posts: 22unconfirmed, member
    qwerty52 said:
    Years long, “Sign with Google......Facebook.........Twitter........”, was the most normal way in the world to sign in .
    But when  Apple recently started to use “Sign with Apple”,  it became immediately a wake up call for the antitrust investigators........
    Apple requires you to add the "Sign in with Apple" button if you use other single sign-on', like Google Sign in, even if you don't want to add the Apple one, otherwise have your app rejected. This is an issue.
    edited February 23 CheeseFreezewilliamlondonavon b7
  • Reply 19 of 59
    So on my Windows 10 machine at home when I launch Blizzard's battle.net, the login window that lets me log in with my Blizzard account or Google, or Facebook, or Apple is restricting me to my iPhone?
  • Reply 20 of 59
    So some developers have lodged a complaint and the Justice department have had to follow up on this and investigate. That's where it's at - just having a look and see if there is anything to it.


    watto_cobra
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