China is reportedly working on a bypass to Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes which prevent users from being tracked if they opt-out.
Apple will soon give customers full control over which apps can track their activity in the new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, coming with iOS 14.5 this month. ATT will require all apps to ask for explicit permission from iPhone and iPad owners before the apps can obtain access to the unique IDFA number (Identification For Advertisers) assigned to each device for data tracking and ad targeting.
Now, the Financial Times reports that the China Advertising Association (CAA) is working on a new feature that would let app developers bypass iOS 14’s ATT changes.
Backed by the Chinese government, the association could allow developers and marketing companies to track users without their consent. The new tracking method is reportedly called CAID, and tech companies like ByteDance and Tencent are currently testing it. The Chinese company has already provided its developers with an 11-page guide and suggested them to use CAID as a substitute for IDFA.
The CAA reportedly claims its tool is not in opposition to Apple’s privacy measures, and that it is actively communicating with Apple. Apple told the FT that its App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, stating “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.”
However, the report claims that “two people briefed on the issue” stated that Apple is aware of the CAID tool and has “so far turned a blind eye to its use.” Apple can reportedly detect and stop the CAID tool, but might not want to upset the government.
CAID could be released as soon as this week, and whilst it was made for app developers in China, foreign companies including a French gaming group have reportedly shown interest.