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French publishers ask Tim Cook to abandon forthcoming Web Eraser

Safari getting new AI tools in iOS 18

Advertisers and publishers in France have jointly written to Tim Cook imploring Apple to not roll out the ability for Safari users to selectively erase portions of sites, such as ads.

Apple has not even announced the forthcoming Web Eraser — exclusively uncovered by AppleInsider — but the expectation that it will come soon has already galvanized UK publishers into asking Tim Cook for it to be abandoned. Now according to Business Insider, a group of French trade bodies are doing the same on behalf of their publishing and advertising industry

"Besides the extremely short notice period and the lack of detailed and verified information on this new feature," says the letter, "it raises numerous questions, particularly concerning legal and editorial responsibilities that Apple has still not responded to."

The group, including Geste, SRI, and digital marketing trade body Alliance Digitale, say that the feature would jeopardize ad sales "in an already troubled period."

"[It would] restrict citizens' access to free, diverse, and quality information," continues the letter to Cook, "with significant consequences for pluralism, content accessibility, and democratic vitality. The group estimates that Safari has around 25% of the whole browser market in France, and with mobile devices it's almost 90%.

Noting that the feature has the potential to threaten 100,000 jobs in France, the trade group simultaneously sent a copy of its letter to French ministers of culture and the economy, as well as Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for internal markets.

Apple has not commented on the French group's letter. It apparently has not responded to the UK letter, either, despite that being sent around May 10.

If the Web Eraser makes it into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, or the next version of macOS, it will be announced at WWDC 2024.