China looking for workaround to iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency

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 (CAA) is already looking for ways to get around Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, introduced as part of iOS 14.5, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

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

In a comment to the Financial Times, the CAA assured that CAID does not “stand in opposition to Apple’s privacy policy,” and that 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 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 FT says that Apple is aware of the workaround-in-progress. But it also says that it “seems to have so far turned a blind eye to its use” to date. 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 issues. In the U.S., Facebook has 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