The US Justice Department is investigating Apple’s Sign In with Apple feature as part of an antitrust probe into the iPhone maker, according to a report in The Information on Tuesday. Investigators are examining whether the security feature makes it difficult to switch to another platform, such as Android or Windows, the site reported.
Introduced in June 2019, the authentication tool was touted as preventing online tracking. It uses an Apple ID as a credential to sign in to websites and apps, instead of typing in an email address. The tool uses your iOS device to verify your credentials, instead of social account logins, which could make you vulnerable to being tracked online.
Apple requires apps that offer third-party sign-in options from Facebook, Twitter and Google to also offer Sign In with Apple. But developers reportedly began filing complaints about the feature with the Justice Department in 2020.
Apple said it crafted the feature’s guidelines with developers based on their feedback, a spokesman for the company said, adding that it doesn’t require developers to use third-party or social media sign-ins.
Regulators the US and Europe have stepped up their investigations into the practices of leading technology companies, including Apple.
In June, the European Commission opened two antitrust probes, looking at Apple Pay and the company’s App Store. In the case of Apple Pay, regulators are investigating whether the company unfairly locks out competitors from using the NFC wireless transmission technology that powers Apple Pay on its gadgets. With the App Store, investigators are looking into whether the restrictions Apple places on developers hurt competition.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.