The move is somewhat a surprise given that in 2021 the French Authority stated that Apple's changes did "not appear to reflect an abuse of a dominant position on the part of Apple." While at the time that appeared to indicate that the French had surrendered before the power of Apple's mighty briefs, it did say that would continue looking into it.
It is unclear at this point what changed the watchdog's mind.
The new investigation is the first major government move taken globally against Apple related to privacy rule changes that upended the digital advertising world. French regulators are favoring issuing a formal "Statement of Objections" to parties involved in the matter in the coming weeks.
That step would signal to groups that issued initial complaints about Apple's actions and Apple that the authority found evidence of illegal anticompetitive behavior in its initial review of the complaints it received.
The 2020 complaint argues that Apple's app tracking changes did not adequately adhere to European Union privacy rules and that Apple failed to hold itself to the same ad targeting standards that it forced on its competitors because it targeted iOS users with ads from app tracking data.
The complaint was filed jointly by four French advertising trade groups -- IAB France, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), SRI and UDECAM.