Apple blocks TikTok's attempt to track iPhone users
Ever wonder how you could look up a product online and all of a sudden targeted ads for that product pop up on your phone and other connected devices? Tis not witchcraft, readers. Third party apps and websites track your travels across the internet and also know which apps you've been viewing. When Apple released iOS 14.5 in May, it gave iOS users the opportunity to opt-out of getting tracked with the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature.
This feature gives iPhone users the ability to decide for themselves whether they want to be tracked by third party apps and websites for the purpose of receiving online ads. More importantly, the ATT feature allows users to opt-out of being tracked which is the option that the vast majority of iOS users have selected. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was not pleased that Apple was giving users a way out of being tracked, but that isn't surprising since the social media giant took in over $84 billion in ad revenue last year and 96% of iOS users had decided to opt-out of tracking in the early going.
Another company decimated by ATT is TikTok and the popular short-form video app attempted a workaround to get around App Tracking Transparency called device fingerprinting. The latter can collect user data through the use of an algorithm and the entire workaround is called CAID for short.
Facebook is one of the advertising-related platforms that is losing revenue thanks to ATT
The Financial Times said that Apple was left with certain options: it could decide to look the other way and allow CAID to be used by app developers to obtain personal data, or it could block apps like TikTok from the App Store as long as the workaround continued to be employed. The latter is what Apple decided to do as it rejected TikTok updates that contained the CAID build.
Alex Bauer, head of product marketing at adtech group Branch, told the Times that "The Chinese app ecosystem was collectively baiting the bull with CAID, under the theory that Apple couldn’t afford to ban every major app in the market. Apple called their bluff, and seems to have reasserted control over the situation by aggressively rapping knuckles on early adopters before the consortium gained any real momentum."
While TikTok tried to use a back door to get past Apple's ATT, the tech giant was able to slam that door shut. The company remains serious about promoting privacy on the iPhone and its other devices.