Inaction by Apple over App Tracking Transparency workarounds criticized by critics. Third-party apps are allegedly utilising workarounds to collect data on users who have opted out of tracking via iOS’ App Tracking Transparency, with many apps gathering the same amount of data as they did prior to the implementation of App Tracking Transparency(ATT).
Apple’s launch of App Tracking Transparency was intended to provide customers more control over how their online activity was tracked for marketing purposes. Despite Apple’s efforts to require apps to provide an opt-out mechanism, research indicates that it is mainly unsuccessful.
“At the moment, anyone opting out of tracking receives the same level of data collection as they did previously,” marketing strategy specialist Eric Seufert told the Financial Times. “Because Apple has not discouraged the action they have condemned as heinous, they are essentially complicit in it occurring.”
According to one email obtained by the investigation, a vendor informed clients that it could still get data on more than 95% of iOS users by fingerprinting devices and people using data points such as IP addresses and other device and network parameters.
Companies have investigated other methods of data collection that App Tracking Transparency effectively prohibits, including one by a Chinese government-backed outfit. Apple has cautioned, however, that apps that violate its tracking policies will face sanctions in the future.
According to Sean O’Brien, creator of Yale’s Privacy Lab, Apple’s touting of privacy initiatives without enforcing them is very dishonest. For instance, while Apple prohibits device fingerprinting, the regulation is reportedly not being actively enforced.
O’Brien suggests that Apple faces legal action from users if it does not follow through on its marketing promises. As an analogy to how Google was sued in 2018 for tracking user locations despite being instructed not to, O’Brien suggests that “Apple may discover this the hard way.”
Apple stated in a statement “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.”