US DOJ opens antitrust probe over 'Sign in with Apple' button complaints

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,866   +746
Staff member
In context: Apple seems to have no shortage of antitrust accusations flung at it lately. Earlier this week, the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal dropped a case against the Cupertino tech titan brought on by the continuing "Apple Tax" spat with Epic Games. Now, the company faces scrutiny in the US from the Department of Justice over its alternative sign-in method.

The Information reports that developers began complaining last summer about being forced to use the "Sign in with Apple" (SIWA) feature in their apps if they employed other third-party authentication measures like signing in with Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google. The DoJ is interested in finding out if the button gives Apple an unfair advantage by making it more difficult for consumers to switch to rival devices.

According to sources close to the DoJ, some developers using sign-in buttons for Facebook or Google have done away with them because they did not want to be forced to add the Apple authentication method. The primary reason for not wanting to use SIWA: it's too private.

"Representatives of two iPhone app developers that complained to DOJ investigators about Apple’s requirements told The Information that after Apple made its sign-in button mandatory, they removed all sign-in buttons from their app because they didn’t want to include Apple’s and potentially lose out on gaining information about their customers."

With the Sign in with Apple button, the only information the developer can access is the user name and email associated with the iCloud account. A unique stable anonymous token is then produced for future authentications. Users may also opt to hide their email addresses when clicking the button for the first time (above). In this case, SIWA creates a random email that routes to the associated iCloud address.

By contrast, developers can access much more information when using Facebook's and Google's authentication methods, including birthdates, hometowns, contacts, and more. For example, take a look at all the user information that Facebook may allow apps to ask for on their Permissions Reference webpage.

It's somewhat important to note that apps that do not use a third-party authentication button are not required to use SIWA. Only those using these methods have to also include Apple's. This requirement seems to make sense since Apple is merely trying to ensure that users have the option to remain private. However, developers see it as the company once again throwing its weight around to stifle competition. We'll have to see what the DoJ has to say about it when it concludes its investigation.

Image credit: Kenny Wassus

Permalink to story.

 

S Hone

Posts: 55   +56
So apple gives me a solution that makes it so companies I don't want tracking me can't track me...and subscription services I don't want can't force me into sucker subscriptions?

And this is the reason I continue to invest in and support apple.

Apple are one of the better ones, they just need move their supply chain and they could be almost perfect!
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,252   +2,374
TechSpot Elite
They are 100% using it to lock in their customers. Especially since there's no official implementation on their rival platforms.
 

ypsylon

Posts: 310   +213
Oh poor little data thieves...

Apple should outright ban jerk-devs who think that platform is too private. Want to steal every shred of data from users Windows and ChromeOS/Android are best places to do it anyway.

Of course Apple platform is not as secure and private as they paint it (cannot compare privacy with services like for example Runbox), but compared to most notorious data thieves - Google and Facecock they are best thing on the planet right now, by long margin. Provide balanced, secure & private platform suitable for 90% of users, unless you're really paranoid.

Sign-in with Apple is bloody awesome and that's everything is to know.

If they wanto to dominate the World, they need to change business practices tho. It's better to sell 2 billion devices for 400$ a piece world-wide, than 100million for 1000$ just in US. Lifestyle company from Cupertino seems have problem with Rest of the World concept. LOL
 

psycros

Posts: 3,365   +3,807
Oh poor little data thieves...

Apple should outright ban jerk-devs who think that platform is too private. Want to steal every shred of data from users Windows and ChromeOS/Android are best places to do it anyway.

Of course Apple platform is not as secure and private as they paint it (cannot compare privacy with services like for example Runbox), but compared to most notorious data thieves - Google and Facecock they are best thing on the planet right now, by long margin. Provide balanced, secure & private platform suitable for 90% of users, unless you're really paranoid.

Sign-in with Apple is bloody awesome and that's everything is to know.

If they wanto to dominate the World, they need to change business practices tho. It's better to sell 2 billion devices for 400$ a piece world-wide, than 100million for 1000$ just in US. Lifestyle company from Cupertino seems have problem with Rest of the World concept. LOL

They sell a fair bit to the rich in China and India. The middle classes there couldn't even afford their stuff at $400..would need to be more like $200, and they'll never produce something like that because all of it would be resold to western countries.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 252   +350
Oh poor little data thieves...

Apple should outright ban jerk-devs who think that platform is too private. Want to steal every shred of data from users Windows and ChromeOS/Android are best places to do it anyway.

Of course Apple platform is not as secure and private as they paint it (cannot compare privacy with services like for example Runbox), but compared to most notorious data thieves - Google and Facecock they are best thing on the planet right now, by long margin. Provide balanced, secure & private platform suitable for 90% of users, unless you're really paranoid.

Sign-in with Apple is bloody awesome and that's everything is to know.

If they wanto to dominate the World, they need to change business practices tho. It's better to sell 2 billion devices for 400$ a piece world-wide, than 100million for 1000$ just in US. Lifestyle company from Cupertino seems have problem with Rest of the World concept. LOL
Then they'd have to ban their own pathological liar a##es. They're happily selling your iPhone usage metrics to the highest bidders. Billions of dollars earned on your privacy every year.
Apple is in no way a victim here. They are often worse than what companies like Facebook and Google stoop to. Apple has zero quarrels scamming buyers on fake warranties, using slave labour, stealing IP, picking the least regulated locations in the world to dodge environmental laws, scam your country of tax income. This is a money making monster with zero morals.
 

trparky

Posts: 874   +892
Oh, poor babies can't get their grubby hands on my private data. Well... go f**k yourself! My data is my data, not yours! I demand privacy!
 
So apple gives me a solution that makes it so companies I don't want tracking me can't track me...and subscription services I don't want can't force me into sucker subscriptions?

And this is the reason I continue to invest in and support apple.

Agreed - this is my #1 reason for buying an iPhone instead of Android. Not that I'm in love with Apple and everything they've done over the years, but on the topic of privacy they've got the right idea.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 82   +57
This is quite funny. So developers are complaining because they can't get user data if we login via Apple. While people are complaining that Apple is keeping the information to themselves to lock their users in, but is it any better to sell our data to the likes of Facebook and Google who are known to sell the data to advertisers anyway?