Chinese Tech Companies Reportedly Testing New Tool to Circumvent Apple's App Tracking Transparency Rules

Apple plans to begin enforcing its App Tracking Transparency changes following the release of iOS 14.5, and all apps that access an iPhone's ad identifier or IDFA will need to ask a user's permission before tracking is allowed.

nba tracking prompt
According to a new report by the Financial Times, however, the state-backed China Advertising Association (CAA) is testing a tool that could be used to bypass the new Apple privacy rules and allow companies to continue tracking users without their consent.

The new method of tracking users is called CAID, which is said to be undergoing testing by tech companies and advertisers in China. According to the report, TikTok owner ByteDance has already provided its developers with an 11-page guide suggesting that advertisers "use the CAID as a substitute if the user's IDFA is unavailable."

However, the CAA told FT that the tool "does not stand in opposition to Apple's privacy policy" and that the association "is currently actively communicating with Apple," while the CAID solution has not yet been formally implemented.

Apple declined to directly comment on the potential use of CAID to get around its new App Tracking Transparency rules, but told the newspaper that it wouldn't grant any exceptions.

"The App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, including Apple," the company told FT. "We believe strongly that users should be asked for their permission before being tracked. Apps that are found to disregard the user’s choice will be rejected."

However, two people briefed on the issue told the newspaper that Apple is aware of the tool and seems to have so far turned a blind eye to its use.

Apple is believed to have the capacity to detect which apps use the CAID tool and could block them from its App Store in China, if it wanted to. But such a response could ignite a major confrontation if CAID receives the support of China's technology companies as well as its government agencies.

Three people with knowledge of briefings between Apple and developers also said the Cupertino, California-based company would be wary of taking strong action, despite a clear violation of its stated rules, if CAID has the support of China's tech giants as well as its government agencies.

Rich Bishop, chief executive of AppInChina, a leading publisher of international software in China, suggested that Apple might "make an exception for China" because tech companies and the government are "so closely aligned."

It still remains unclear how the CAID system works, but Beijing-based data privacy company Digital Union believes that the system has been designed with Apple's rules in mind because its tracking methods may not uniquely identify users. "This is the room that the industry has left to explore," the company's co-founder Yang Cong'an told FT, suggesting the grey area was intentional.

CAID is reportedly scheduled to be publicly released as soon as this week, and although the system is intended to be used by local app developers in China, at least one French gaming group is said to have been encouraged to apply to use it and several foreign advertising companies have already applied on behalf of their Chinese divisions.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Razorpit Avatar
20 months ago
China circumventing privacy rights? Color me shocked.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rob_2811 Avatar
20 months ago
Will Tim Cook condemn this like he does Facebook?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
n0va Avatar
20 months ago
definitely did not expect this. the chinese communist party never fail to surprise me
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
icanhazapple Avatar
20 months ago
This issue is not exclusive to Apple, with respect standing up to China. There are a number of tech companies that could take a similar position, but they have chosen not to.

But only Apple has a $2 trillion market cap/has the cash reserves to lead the charge on this privacy issue. We look to Apple to be better, and they've deferred on standing up to China.

Remember that Apple's dedication to human rights ends where it potentially precludes Apple from taking action on a privacy issue that would upset China to the extent they would restrict the sale of iPhones.

Same is true with encryption of iCloud backups.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeadingHeat Avatar
20 months ago
*Facebook and Google engineers furiously writing down notes*
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rob_2811 Avatar
20 months ago

Probably. Why wouldn't he?
He won't get invited to the next audience with the CCP
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Dutch Regulator Says Apple's Plan for Third-Party In-App Payments is Insufficient, Fines Apple 5 Million Euros

Monday January 24, 2022 6:33 am PST by
The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has ruled that Apple's plan to allow App Store dating apps to use third-party payment methods for in-app purchases does not sufficiently meet the requirements of a previous ruling. As a result, the ACM has hit Apple with an initial 5 million euro fine as a consequence, and fines will continue to be assessed at 5 million euros per week up to a...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Apple to Allow In-App Third-Party Payment Options for First Time in the Netherlands

Saturday January 15, 2022 12:39 am PST by
Apple has announced that it will allow third-party payment options for in-app purchases for dating apps in the Netherlands, in the first ever concession of its kind. In a message posted on its developer site late on Friday, Apple announced that it will comply with a Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) ruling that compels the company to allow third-party payment services to...
1x 1

Apple CEO Tim Cook 'Secretly' Signed $275 Billion Deal With China in 2016

Tuesday December 7, 2021 6:49 am PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook "secretly" signed an agreement worth more than $275 billion with Chinese officials, promising that Apple would help to develop China's economy and technological capabilities, The Information reports. In an extensive paywalled report based on interviews and purported internal Apple documents, The Information revealed that Tim Cook personally forged a five-year agreement...
craig wwdc 2021 privacy

Apple's Privacy Features Have Cost Social Media Companies Nearly $10 Billion in Revenue

Monday November 1, 2021 4:42 am PDT by
As a result of its privacy features, Apple has cost social media companies including Meta, formerly known as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube, nearly $10 billion in revenue in the second half of 2021, according to an investigation by the Financial Times. The Financial Times found that most users have opted out of tracking using Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, a...
nba tracking prompt green

P&G Wanted to Skirt App Tracking Transparency Rules With China Data Collection Tech [Updated]

Thursday April 8, 2021 11:39 am PDT by
Procter & Gamble Co. was one of the companies that worked with the China Advertising Association to test a new data collection tool designed to get around Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules, reports The Wall Street Journal. The state-backed China Advertising Agency developed a new method of tracking users called CAID to replace access to the IDFA or advertising identifier of an iPhone...
China iCloud Feature 2

Apple's Security Compromises in China Outlined in New Report

Monday May 17, 2021 1:46 pm PDT by
Apple has been making concessions on privacy and security in order to continue building and selling its devices in China, according to an in-depth report from The New York Times. The focal point of the report is Apple's decision to comply with a 2016 law that requires all personal information and data collected in China to be kept in China, which has led Apple to build a China data center...
xiaomi lei jun

Xiaomi Pledges 'War of Life and Death' Against Apple to Become World's Biggest Smartphone Brand

Friday February 11, 2022 4:35 am PST by
Xiaomi intends to step up its challenge to Apple, the company's founder announced this week (via South China Morning Post). Xiaomi founder and chief executive Lei Jun said on Chinese social media platform Weibo that the company will specifically focus on the high-end segment of the global smartphone market in an effort to directly rival Apple, attempting to fill the void left by Huawei....
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Dutch Regulators to Meet With Dating App Providers to Assess Apple's Plan for Alternate In-App Payment Options

Monday January 17, 2022 9:55 am PST by
The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands plans to assess Apple's announced plans for allowing dating apps on the App Store in the country to use third-party payment methods, ensuring those plans "meet the requirements" of a previous ruling. Over the weekend, Apple announced that it would exclusively allow dating apps on the App Store in the Netherlands to use...

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky Removed From iOS App Store Ahead of Upcoming Shutdown

Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:27 pm PDT by
The Dark Sky weather app that's owned by Apple is no longer available for download in the U.S. App Store, suggesting that it has been removed ahead of schedule. Apple acquired Dark Sky back in March 2020 and has since incorporated elements of the app into the Weather app available on the iPhone (and soon, the iPad). Dark Sky remained available for purchase as a standalone weather app...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tony blevins car

Apple Procurement VP Departs Company After Vulgar TikTok Comment

Thursday September 29, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement, is set to depart the company after he made a crude comment about his profession in a recent TikTok video, reports Bloomberg. Blevins was in a video by TikTok creator Daniel Mac, who was doing a series on the jobs of people he spotted with expensive cars. After seeing Blevins in an expensive Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mac asked Blevins what ...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iPhone 15 to Switch From Lightning to USB C in 2023 feature sans arrow

Kuo: iPhone 14 Pro Max Popularity Could Lead to More Differentiation Between iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Wednesday September 28, 2022 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has seen high demand for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, which could lead the company to further differentiate the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple could add exclusive features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in an effort to encourage more people to purchase the larger and more expensive device. Kuo last week said that Apple asked...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
iOS 16

Everything New in the Latest iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 Betas: Stage Manager Expansion, Wallpaper Tweaks and More

Tuesday September 27, 2022 11:36 am PDT by
Apple today released new betas of iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 to developers, tweaking some of the functionality that's been introduced in prior betas and in the case of iPadOS 16.1, adding a major new feature to Stage Manager. We've rounded up everything new in both betas below. Wallpaper Updates Apple has updated the Wallpaper section of the Settings app to allow users to swap between...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...