Chinese apps test bypass for Apple's App Tracking Transparency

Posted:
in iOS edited March 16
TikTok and other tech giants in China may get around Apple's inbound App Tracking Transparency changes for iOS, by using a tool from a state-backed group to keep tracking users, even if users deny permission.




Expected to be introduced in the coming weeks, App Tracking Transparency will force developers to ask permission from users before they will be able to track a unique identifier for the device for marketing purposes. While the change may impact western advertisers in their ability to serve customized advertising, companies in China may have a workaround.

The China Advertising Association, a government-backed group with approximately 2,000 members, has introduced CAID, a method to identify and track iPhone users in the country, reports the Financial Times. The system gives its users an alternative to using the existing IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) used for iPhone tracking, one that isn't limited by ATT's introduction.

The system is being tested out by many companies in China, including two major tech outfits. TikTok owner ByteDance mentioned CAID in an app developer guide, suggesting to advertisers they can "use the CAID as a substitute if the user's IDFA is unavailable.

Report sources close to Tencent and ByteDance claim each are testing the system.

Even though CAID doesn't require ATT permission to track users, doing so may still put companies in hot water. Apple's rules for tracking explain an app still requires ATT-based permission from the user for any sort of tracking, regardless of whether it is IDFA or an alternate third-party method.

It is thought that Apple has the capability of detecting apps that use CAID, and will have the option to block them from the Chinese App Store if needed. CAID has apparently been in testing for a number of months, with sources adding Apple is both aware of it and is turning a blind eye for the moment.

Apple's stance is that the "App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world," and that "users should be asked for their permission before being tracked." Apple that don't take into account a user's choice "will be rejected" by the company.

However, blocking Chinese apps for bypassing ATT in favor of CAID tracking could be a difficult problem for Apple. It is apparently wary of performing such app bans in China if CAID has strong support from both tech firms and government agencies.


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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,871member
    Their country
    Their choice

    Let the pearl clutchers clutch.  China doesn't care.
    edited March 16 j2fusion
  • Reply 2 of 10
    j2fusionj2fusion Posts: 117member
    What do you bet something similar will happen in the US.  There is too much money at stake here for so someone not to figure out a way around Apple’s restrictions. 
  • Reply 3 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,020member
    Their country
    Their choice

    Let the pearl clutchers clutch.  China doesn't care.
    Of course it's up to China, tho I don't think it's the Chinese government demanding this bypass. They already have processes in place to closely monitor their citizens including via their smart devices.   

    So just as it's the Chinese companies who can decide for themselves that they will thumb their nose at platform rules, it's also Apple's choice whether to consider Chinese citizens just as worthy of privacy from ad purveyors and data collectors if using Apple iPhones as the rest of the world, and enact penalties for bypassing those protections just as they would anywhere else on the planet.

    IMO either user privacy is a core belief or it's simply for marketing purposes where convenient.  I suppose Apple's response will determine which is which. 
    edited March 16 muthuk_vanalingamlikethesky
  • Reply 4 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,304member
    j2fusion said:
    What do you bet something similar will happen in the US.  There is too much money at stake here for so someone not to figure out a way around Apple’s restrictions. 
    First in line will be Facebook. I saw an ad by Facebook the other day on TV saying the Internet needs more regulations and I assumed this was directed at Apple.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 922member
    lkrupp said:
    j2fusion said:
    What do you bet something similar will happen in the US.  There is too much money at stake here for so someone not to figure out a way around Apple’s restrictions. 
    First in line will be Facebook. I saw an ad by Facebook the other day on TV saying the Internet needs more regulations and I assumed this was directed at Apple.
    The internet needs less Facebooks
    maltzcornchipOferPetrolDaveDetnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,110member
    gatorguy said:
    Their country
    Their choice

    Let the pearl clutchers clutch.  China doesn't care.
    Of course it's up to China, tho I don't think it's the Chinese government demanding this bypass. They already have processes in place to closely monitor their citizens including via their smart devices.   

    So just as it's the Chinese companies who can decide for themselves that they will thumb their nose at platform rules, it's also Apple's choice whether to consider Chinese citizens just as worthy of privacy from ad purveyors and data collectors if using Apple iPhones as the rest of the world and enact penalties for bypassing those protections just as they would anywhere else on the planet.

    IMO either user privacy is a core belief or it's simply for marketing purposes where convenient.  I suppose Apple's response will determine which is which. 
    Chinese government and Chinese businesses are not so terribly distinct from one another. Apple's challenges here are 1) access to the very large Chinese market and 2) access to the Chinese factories that produce most of their devices. Decisions about these issues in China are surely mired in those challenges.
    cornchipwatto_cobralikethesky
  • Reply 7 of 10
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,253member
    If Apple don’t ban use of alternative identifiers then the entire ATT stance will fall over.  I suppose they could make an exception for China, but even that will probably open the door to challenges elsewhere.

    I hope Apple show some balls and clamp down on this nonsense.
    maltzOferlikethesky
  • Reply 8 of 10
    mgrad92mgrad92 Posts: 11member
    Their country
    Their choice

    Let the pearl clutchers clutch.  China doesn't care.

    I'm not sure who the "pearl-clutchers" are — but it's Apple's company, and Apple's choice, too, obviously.
    edited March 16 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,296member
    gatorguy said:
    Their country
    Their choice

    Let the pearl clutchers clutch.  China doesn't care.
    Of course it's up to China, tho I don't think it's the Chinese government demanding this bypass. They already have processes in place to closely monitor their citizens including via their smart devices.   
    Exactly.  If you control the internet pipes, it doesn't matter what controls people have on their devices or in their web browsers.

    IMO either user privacy is a core belief or it's simply for marketing purposes where convenient.  I suppose Apple's response will determine which is which. 
    They've already been reacting quickly to jailbreakers, so there's no reason to expect they wouldn't do the same for tracking/privacy loopholes in Safari.
    edited March 16 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 260member
    Does this apply to apps such as TikTok used outside of China? If so they’re all going in the trash. 
    watto_cobra
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