China’s largest technology firms, including ByteDance and Tencent are testing tools to bypass Apple’s new privacy rules and continue tracking iPhone users without their consent so that they can serve them targeted mobile ads.
According to Apple, these new rules are supposed to provide its customers with greater privacy and are expected to roll out in a few weeks.
In the future, they will have to ask permission to gather tracking data.
This will act as a bombshell to the online advertising industry, since most users are expected to decline being tracked.
However, the Chinese Advertising Association (CAA) has now reportedly launched a new way to track and identify iPhone users called CAID.
It is currently being widely tested by tech companies and advertisers across the country.
ByteDance, the owner of Tiktok, has suggested its advertisers use CAID as a substitute if the users’ IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is unavailable.
And, although it has not been made public, both Tencent and ByteDance are said to be testing this new system.
Apple has denied that it would grant any exceptions.
In a statement it has made it clear that the App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, including to itself, adding that they believe strongly that users should be asked for their permission before being tracked.
It was made clear that Apps that are found to disregard the user’s choice will be rejected.
And, according to sources Apple has the technology to detect which apps use the new tool and can block them from its App store in China, if it wants to; something that will likely lead to a battle of wills between the Chinese state – that promotes espionage – and Apple.
Some experts, howwever, suggest China may even ban Apple for implementing the new privacy laws, which, in all probability may see Apple making an exception for China.
It should be noted that Apple has made it clear that if the users do not give permission for tracking, using alternative tracking routes such as hashtags, e-mail address or hashed phone numbers is still not allowed.
Additionally, CAID had been designed to get around Apple’s rules because its tracking methods might not “uniquely” identify the user; a possibly intentional ‘grey area.
But, China may not be alone in employing such technology and deserving of criticism – as this bypassing of privacy laws is being investigated elsewhere.
Ay least one French firm is also known to have shown interest in the same technology.