China works to circumvent iOS 14.5’s App Tracking Transparency

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Your iPhone will soon offer a bit more privacy.
Apple is making it tougher for apps to track users.
Graphic: Apple

China’s state-backed China Advertising Association is already looking for ways to get around Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

The organization’s approach reportedly involves something called a “CAID.” This can supposedly act as an alternative means of tracking users to the iPhone’s ad identifier, or IDFA. TikTok parent company ByteDance issued a guide for app developers that describes how marketers “can use CAID as a substitute if the user’s IDFA is unavailable.”

The control App Tracking Transparency feature, which Apple stands poised to introduce in iOS 14.5, requires developers to gain explicit permission from users before tracking them across websites and other apps. The privacy measure faces fierce opposition from some companies. It is widely expected to shake up the online advertising industry.

In a comment to the Financial Times, the Chinese ad association said CAID does not “stand in opposition to Apple’s privacy policy.” The group also said it is “actively communicating” with Apple on the solution, which has not yet been implemented. However, this will no doubt provoke concerns about the application of Apple’s privacy-ensuring App Tracking Transparency feature.

“The App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, including Apple,” Apple told the newspaper. “We believe strongly that users should be asked for their permission before being tracked. Apps that are found to disregard the user’s choice will be rejected.”

Turning a blind eye?

The Financial Times says Apple is aware of the workaround-in-progress. But it also says the Cupertino “seems to have so far turned a blind eye to its use.” The report continues:

“Three people with knowledge of briefings between Apple and developers also said the Cupertino, California-based company would be wary of taking strong action, despite a clear violation of its stated rules, if CAID has the support of China’s tech giants as well as its government agencies. Rich Bishop, chief executive of AppInChina, a leading publisher of international software in China, suggested that Apple might ‘make an exception for China’ because tech companies and the government are ‘so closely aligned.'”

Apple’s efforts to crack down on apps that track users have already caused turmoil. In the United States, Facebook blasted Apple for the feature, which it says will hurt small businesses.

Apple has long said that it views China as its future biggest market. It is also where much of Apple’s manufacturing takes place.

Source: Financial Times