Apple is currently under investigation by U.S. regulators. This time, it's the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Today, the CFPB announced that it has requested information from Apple, Square, Amazon, PayPal and Google about their data practices.
To ensure that consumers are protected, the CFPB needs information to better understand how tech companies use personal payment data and manage user data access.
Rohit Chopra, Director of CFPB, stated that "big tech companies are eagerly expanding to gain greater control over our spending habits and insight into it." "We ordered them to provide information about their business plans, and practices."
According to the CFPB tech companies developed new products and business models during the current global health crisis. These "represent new risks for consumers and to a fair and transparent market."
The CFPB states that Apple and Google tried to integrate payment services into their operating system, but that there were no changes in iOS or the iOS App Store during this pandemic.
The CFPB is concerned specifically with data harvesting, monetization, and "access restrictions to user choice," which seem to be aimed at Apple or Google.
Merchants and other partners feel obliged to participate in payment systems that grow in scale and have network effects. This increases the likelihood that payment system operators will restrict consumer choice and suppress innovation by excluding certain businesses from their networks. These orders aim to find out about restrictive access policies and their impact on the options available to consumers and businesses.
Apple will provide a lot of information to the customer, according to a sample letter [PDF]. This includes details about all products, all features, fees for using products, discounts, promotions, and other pertinent information.
The CFPB requests responses by December 15, 2021. Apple must respond to that request by that date.