Some of China’s biggest tech companies are preparing to circumvent Apple’s upcoming privacy feature. This is a tool that could bypass the company’s new privacy framework called ATT (or App Tracker Transparency), which is coming soon with iOS 14.5.
According to The Financial Times, the owner of TikTok, ByteDance and Tencent, the studio responsible for video games such as Fornite and League of Legends, are testing a solution created by specialists to circumvent Apple’s new privacy features for its mobile operating system.
It is no secret that the Cupertino-based multinational has taken the concept of privacy as its standard and is constantly working to improve it. In this sense, it has been introducing different tools that have caused the discomfort of technological giants, not only Chinese, but also American.
With iOS 14.3, it launched privacy stickers. A section in the App Store that provides clear information about what types of data app developers or their external partners collect. Facebook was one of the companies against this feature.
Now, with iOS 14.5 Apple intends to take its idea of privacy a step further by activating ATT, App Tracker Transparency. Its acronym says a lot and, at the same time, a little. Let’s see what it’s all about.
Apple decides to disable IDFA
For a long time, app developers have enjoyed the benefits of an advertising identifier known as IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). One of its main functions is to track user data in order to deliver personalised advertising. In other words, you are tracked, but no personal information is revealed. The problem: the data collected can be specific enough to be tracked across websites, different applications and engage in microtargeting, which is a way in which we are offered advertising that is so targeted that we think the mobile phone is listening to us.
That is why the IDFA is considered by Apple as a system that does not respect users’ privacy and is looking for apps available in the App Store to migrate to less aggressive tracking solutions. This would allow advertising campaigns to be developed while protecting users’ data without undermining their trust.
In order to make the existence of IDFA transparent, Apple announced that as of iOS 14.5 the identifier would be disabled. In other words, when an app wants to use the tracker, the operating system will display a notification asking the user if they agree to share their data for advertising purposes. There is no way to disable it.
Tech companies against Apple’s privacy measures
Tech giants such as Facebook and Google have taken a dim view of this feature. Both offer most of their services for free in exchange for displaying targeted advertising to their users, hence the need to track them. The social network announced that it could severely damage the advertising market, while the search engine company decided to abandon the use of IDFA, although it stressed that this could affect metrics and ad results in the near future.
However, some Chinese tech companies are taking a much more drastic decision. They are testing a solution created by the Chinese Advertisers Association called CAID that would bypass the restrictions imposed by Apple.
According to a TikTok development document accessed by The Financial Times, CAID “can be used as a substitute for IDFA if it disappears”. ByteDance and Tencent have confirmed that they are testing this solution, although they have not made any further statements.
It remains to be seen, then, whether Apple will also block this new ad-tracking system or whether users will start to abandon – or not – social networks, video games and services that violate their privacy.