Sign in with Apple at WWDC keynoteSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for the "Sign in with Apple" button.
  • The investigation launched after a series of complaints from developers.

After numerous complaints from developers, Apple's "Sign in with Apple" button for iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur is now being investigated by the United States Department of Justice.

According to a report by The Information, investigators are wondering if the button, which offers users a faster, more private way to create accounts, is anti-competitive in nature to other phone brands.

Apple says its "Sign in with Apple" button, which gives users the ability to hide their personal details from the app, is "pro privacy." But investigators are examining how Apple uses the sign-in button and other App Store rules to make it more difficult for users to switch to a rival device maker, according to the two people, who have met regularly with the Justice Department over the past 18 months. The government's interest in the Apple sign-in button, which the company introduced in 2019, hasn't been previously reported.

In addition to investigating the "Sign in with Apple" button, the investigators are also looking into antitrust issues with the company and its App Store.

Developers began lodging complaints to U.S. investigators about the sign-in button starting last summer, these people said. The Apple button is one of several angles the DOJ is pursuing in its broader probe of the company. The others include allegations made by developers such as Spotify and Epic Games about Apple's rigid control of its App Store, including the commissions it charges developers. The probe also is examining complaints about how Apple places restrictions on location tracking and other forms of user tracking that Apple's own apps don't have to follow, said several people with knowledge of the matter.

A spokesperson for Apple says that the "Sign in with Apple" button was co-created with input from developers and has received "positive feedback". They would not comment on the investigation.