Apple’s application tracking transparency feature doesn’t stop tracking

Image for the article titled You told your apps to stop following you, but they didn’t listen to you

Photography: Ming Yeung | (Getty Images))

In 2014, some very perverted horrors stole some very personal iCloud photos from some very reputable celebrities and posted them on the open network, creating one very specific PR crisis for Apple CEO Tim Cook. The company was getting ready to throw out Apple Pay as part of its latest software update, a process that took more than a decade to bring a reputation payment processors i retailers boarded. The only question was that nobody they seem to have wanted the credit card information to be in the hands of the same company whose service was used to steal dozens of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence just a week earlier.

Apple desperately needed a rebrand, and that’s exactly what we got. Within a few days the company introduced a polished promotional campaign“Finish with a.” brand new website and an open letter to Cook himself explaining the company’s heightened power of privacy and the safeguards adopted following that information leak. Apple isn’t just a company you can trust, Cook said the company – unlike the other guys (* cough * Facebook * cough *) who built their empires in Silicon Valley based on the commitment of your data to marketing companies, Apple’s business model is built from “selling great products, ”No data mining required.

This ad campaign has been going on for the last seven years, and by all accounts, it worked. It worked well enough that in 2021 we entrusted Apple with our credit card information, ours personal health information, i most what is in our homes. And when Tim Cook condemned things like “data-industrial complex”In interviews earlier this year and then published a slew iOS updates with the intention of giving users the power they deserve, we updated our iPhones and felt a little safer.

The Transparency of application tracking (ATT) settings that came bundled with an update for iOS 14 gave iPhone users everywhere the power to tell their favorite apps (and Facebook) to stop the whole thing with tracking. The rejection, Apple has promised, will prevent those apps from following you as you browse the web and through other apps on your phone. Well, it turns out that’s not quite so. The Washington Post was first reported on research research who put Apple’s ATT function to the test and found the setup … pretty useless. As the researchers said:

In our tests of the top ten apps, we did not find a significant difference in third-party tracking activities when selecting “Ask app not to track” Transparency of app tracking. The number of active third-party trackers was identical regardless of the user’s ATT choice, and the number of tracking attempts was only slightly (~ 13%) lower when the user selected “Ask application not to track”.

So, what the hell happened? In short, ATT addresses one specific (and powerful) piece of digital data that advertisers use to identify your particular device — and your specific identity — across multiple sites and services: the so-called advertiser ID, or IDFA. If you tell apps not to track, access prevents them from accessing this identifier, which is why companies like Facebook lost their minds over these changes. Without IDFA, Facebook had no way of knowing if, say, an Instagram ad was translated for sale on a third-party platform, or you downloaded an app because of an ad you saw in your news feed.

Fortunately for these companies (but unfortunately for us), monitoring does not begin and end with IDFA. Fingerprints – or collecting a bunch of different pieces of mobile data to uniquely identify your device – came as a fairly popular alternative to some big digital advertising companies, which eventually led Apple to tell them to stop doing that shit. But because “fingerprints” encompass so many different types of data in so many different contexts (and can be worn under different names), no one knocked anything down. And outside of one or two banned apps, Apple really is he didn’t seem to care.

“Apple believes that tracking should be transparent to users and under their control,” an Apple spokesman told Gizmodo. When a user selects “Ask the app not to be tracked,” the app is notified that the user would not want to be tracked in any way, and all developers – including Apple – are strictly required to abide by the user’s choice. If we find that the developer does not respect the user’s choice, we will work with the developer to resolve the issue or they will be removed from the App Store. ”

This is the same statement that the company offered to Post when it asked why asking some of these applications not to “follow” resulted in those applications sending a bunch of data to third-party marketing firms. In some cases, this included everything from the cell carrier that a person used to the total storage space on their device, which could be joined to create that person’s unique “fingerprint”.

Apple responded with a Post message that “[reach] from these companies to understand what information they collect and how they share it, ”before … seemingly doing the same as they have done so far. According to the Post, these applications remained unchanged even a few weeks after Apple’s statement.

This is a move that seems extremely inappropriate for Apple, given the company’s long-standing attempt to position itself as the protector of privacy in Silicon Valley. But maybe Apple, which is taking steps to investigate the monopoly multiple countries due to the firm capture of the company on the App Store, it does not want to suppress developers who slide around IDFA by capturing other pieces of data because of where it could lead. One of the antitrust cases forced the company to recognize part of its control last month — especially over app payments.

Some critics of Apple in the marketing world are raised red flags months about potential competition concerns with Apple’s ATT introduction, and it’s not hard to see why. This gave Apple exclusive access to a particularly powerful piece of information everything its customers, IDFA, leaving competing technology companies to fight for all the pieces of data they can find. If all of these notes become the sole property of Apple, also, it is practical begging for even more antitrust oversight. Apple seems to be doing here what each of us would probably do in his situation: choosing his battles.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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