Some of the biggest tech companies in China, including ByteDance and Tencent, are testing a state-backed tool to bypass Apple's new privacy rules and continue to track iPhone users. Without their consent; To deliver targeted ads to them.
In the coming weeks, Apple is expected to release the changes it announced last June to iPhones, which it says will give users more privacy. So far, apps have relied on Apple's IDFA system to see who clicks on ads and apps that are downloading.
##### In the future, they will have to request permission to collect tracking data, a change that is expected to cause billions of dollars of loss in the online advertising industry. Facebook has previously fought this trend, as most users are expected to refuse to track them.
The state-backed China Advertising Association, which has 2,000 members, has launched a new method for tracking and identifying iPhone users called CAID, which is being tested extensively by the country's tech companies and advertisers.
ByteDance, owner of the social video app TikTok, referred to CAID in an 11-page guide to app developers obtained by the Financial Times. This indicates that advertisers "can use the CIAID as an alternative if Apple blocks a user's IDFA system". In this way, advertisers will be able to know who is clicking on the ads without violating Apple's terms.
Several efforts are underway to circumvent the rules of Apple. But the "CAED" is their biggest challenge so far, and Apple has denied that it will grant any exceptions, in a move that paves the way for a major confrontation.
"The terms and conditions of the app store apply equally to all developers around the world, including Apple," the company said in a statement, adding, "We strongly believe that users must be required to obtain their permission before being tracked. Applications that are found to be rejected will be rejected." Ignore the user's choice. "
A source familiar with the situation said that Apple would be able to detect apps that use the new tool and block them from the app store in China if it wanted to.
But Zach Edwards, founder of Victory Medium, a tech consultancy, said, "They can't block every app in China. If they do that, it would effectively lead to a series of actions, which would expel Apple from China."
Three people familiar with the matter said the Cupertino, California-based company would be wary of taking strong action, despite the apparent violation of its stated rules, if CAED were to be backed by China's tech giants, as well as its government.
Rich Bishop, CEO of AppInChina, the leading publisher of international software in China, suggests that Apple might "exclude China"; Because tech companies and government are "closely aligned."
Meanwhile, Yang Kungan, CEO of Digital Union, a Beijing-based data privacy company, has suggested that CAID has been designed to circumvent Apple's rules; Because its tracking methods may not "uniquely" identify a user. "This is the trick you are based on," Yang said, indicating that this gray area was intended.
CAED has been in a free beta phase for select companies in recent months, and two people briefed on the issue said that Apple is aware of the tool and appears to have turned a blind eye so far to its use.
The system is intended for use by local app developers in China, but at least one French game group has been encouraged to use it, and many foreign advertising companies are already submitting on behalf of their Chinese departments, two people familiar with the matter said. Publicly as soon as this week.
Dina Srinivasan, a US antitrust researcher, said the case highlighted how Apple's policies alone cannot solve glaring privacy issues.