Friday, April 2, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Snapchat’s App Tracking Transparency Workaround

Juli Clover:

Apple has begun rejecting app updates that do not comply with the App Tracking Transparency rules that the company is enforcing starting with iOS 14.5, according to a new report from Forbes.

Apps must ask for permission to access the advertising identifier or IDFA of a user’s iPhone in order to track them across apps for ad targeting purposes, a rule that apps will need to comply with when iOS 14.5 launches. The rule also prevents apps from using other workaround methods for tracking users, which is getting some developers into trouble already.

Ben Lovejoy:

Snapchat owner Snap has tested a workaround to App Tracking Transparency using a technique that has a success rate of around 95% in identifying individual users.

Snap says that it will discontinue the tests once the new privacy rule comes into effect, but that it believes there are other steps it can take without breaking Apple’s rules…

[…]

Snap admitted to the FT that it has been running the tests, but said it would cease doing so when the App Tracking Transparency rules take effect in the next few weeks.

Previously:

Update (2021-04-16): John Gruber:

The whack-a-mole aspect of Apple’s new privacy rules is that while Apple can restrict access to the API that provides access to the IDFA identifier, clever developers can find (perhaps infinite) other ways to combine things they do have access to into a unique, or even just “close enough to unique to be useful for tracking”, identifier. IP addresses, to name just one example, are a big factor that Apple can’t block would-be-trackers from using. That’s what CAID is, but CAID isn’t some rogue effort on the part of surveillance advertisers alone — it has the backing of the Chinese government.

Doing this is clearly against Apple’s rules. The questions are: Can Apple detect these techniques? And what is Apple going to do if they do identify apps in China using CAID in flagrant violation of the App Store rules, if those apps have the backing (implicit or explicit) of the Chinese government?

4 Comments

Beatrix Willius

Did anyone expect anything Big Tech NOT working around Apple?

Isn’t about who is circumventing privacy focused rules. It’s about Apple being able at will to spotlight anyone doing it.

They're not mutually exclusive. Facebook made it clear that disclosure and transparency are the aspects of Apple's privacy policies that they most want to circumvent.

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