Report: Despite App Tracking Transparency, Apple Allows Facebook, Snap to Track User Activity

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Apple’due south App Tracking Transparency characteristic most severed the proverbial jugular for Facebook and Snap past disallowing targeted advertising unless the user consents it. Now, a report claims that Apple tree is allowing these social media companies to follow a “much looser interpretation” of the App Tracking Transparency policy introduced with iOS 14.

Fiscal Times

“Apple has allowed app developers to collect data from its 1 billion iPhone users for targeted advertising, in an unacknowledged shift that lets companies follow a much looser interpretation of its controversial privacy policy.”

To get y’all up to speed, the App Tracking Transparency feature allows iPhone users to cull whether or not their identity for advertisers (IDFA tags) can exist collected and used past installed apps and services. Facebook and Snap were heavily reliant on IDFA tags to rail user activity and deliver targeted advertisements that generated acquirement. At one point, Facebook even ran full-page paper advertisements arguing that the policy harmed modest businesses. The social media giant’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, fifty-fifty told investors to expect a drop in revenue if Apple implemented the policy, which it did. Snap likewise attempted to bypass the policy’due south provisions.

ios 14.5 app tracking transparency

Silent Truce for Common Benefit

The report from
claims that the likes of Facebook and Snap “have been allowed to keep sharing user-level signals from iPhones, as long as that information is anonymized and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.” It notes that Snap told its investors it would share data from its 306 meg users with advertisers. If y’all’re wondering, this includes users who specifically enquire Snap “not to track” their data. The platform argues that it would help advertisers gain “a more complete, real-fourth dimension view” on how advertising campaigns perform. Personal data of users will reportedly be “obfuscated and aggregated.”

The social media firms appear to be getting away with this by threading a fine line of obscurity in Apple tree’s rules. Companies “may not derive data from a device for the purpose of uniquely identifying it,” says Apple. Nonetheless, the iPhone maker allows app makers to apply iPhone “signals” at a grouping level to target ads at specific groups of users called “cohorts.” The people in such groups have typical behavior in common that cannot be traced back to their IDFA tags.

It is reportedly “unclear” whether Apple tree has actually “blest these solutions” since information technology declined to answer whatever specific questions.
says, “For anyone interpreting Apple tree’due south rules strictly, these solutions break the privacy rules prepare out to iOS users.”

likewise cited a report from Oct that said the App Tracking Tracking Transparency policy was “functionally useless” for preventing 3rd-party tracking:

“Using the open-source Lockdown Privacy app and manual testing, nosotros found that App Tracking Transparency made no departure in the full number of active third-party trackers and had a minimal affect on the total number of third-party tracking connectedness attempts. We further confirmed that detailed personal or device information was sent to trackers in almost all cases. ATT was functionally useless in stopping third-party tracking, even when users explicitly chose “Ask App Not To Track.”

App Tracking Transparency

Our Take

We cannot assist only second
FT’due south
ascertainment that user data is at the mercy of Big Tech corporations. The way the data is candy and treated is a complete black box for the boilerplate user. There is picayune ane can practise to help matters if Apple tree allows social media companies to disregard the very rules that it created to safeguard information.

“Companies will pledge that they only look at user-level data in one case it has been anonymized, simply without access to the information or algorithms working behind the scenes, users won’t really know if their data privacy has been preserved.”

[Via Fiscal Times]


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