How Google, Meta, Snap are ‘bypassing’ iPhone’s big privacy feature

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature is a big boost for users who want to keep their data private and secure. While users may have been delighted with the feature, companies like Snap, Meta (formerly known as Facebook), Google weren’t too happy as it hit their revenues. Now, a report reveals that these companies have found a way to bypass the feature.
According to a report by The Information, app developers have found a workaround for the feature. The report focuses on what Snap is doing to get user data. Snap is using Advanced Conversions, which as per the report, allows it to “receive detailed information from ad-tech companies about the activities of individual iPhone users.”
With this data, Snap can reportedly measure the efficacy of ads even if users are not sending any data to track them. It works on the idea that who saw an ad and what they did in other apps is “blurred with encryption so they can’t be linked back to an individual.” However, the report claims that Snap is still able to analyse the data and give the results to advertisers.
Similarly, Facebook and Google too are using models that they don’t believe violate Apple’s guidelines. The companies are using complex mathematical modelling on the data “to determine the likelihood that an opted-out user took a certain action based on seeing an ad in its app,” a spokesman said. The companies are using advanced techniques to assess how effective their ad campaigns were. Google said that it does data of iOS users who use the feature but in a privacy-preserving way and doesn’t break any of Apple’s rules.
App Tracking Transparency clearly Tates that developers cannot track users and link their user or device data. However, the rules don’t mention anything specific to linking. Almost 80% of iOS users have opted out of tracking on at least one app on their iPhones. But it looks like developers — like Snap, Meta — have found a workaround that allows them to share data about users which can be used to identify them later.

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