Attempts to Circumvent Apple's App Tracking Transparency Rules in China Reportedly Fail to Gain Traction

Apple's crackdown on Chinese apps that tried to bypass its new privacy rules has successfully thwarted a coordinated effort to create a new way of tracking iPhones for advertising in the country, according to a new report today.

app tracking pop up ios 14
Introduced in iOS 14.5, Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules require apps that access an iPhone's ad identifier or IDFA must ask a user's permission before tracking is allowed. As reported by the Financial Times in March, however, the change spurred ad and tech groups in China to develop a new way of tracking users without their consent, called CAID.

Along with the state-backed China Advertising Association (CAA), tech groups led by Baidu, Tencent, and TikTok parent ByteDance began testing CAID to see if it would let them identify users even if they refused to let apps use IDFA. Aware of the tests, Apple responded by blocking updates to several Chinese apps that it had caught using CAID in App Store submissions.

According to FT's latest paywalled report, that made the groups involved in testing CAID think again, and the project has since struggled to find support in mainland China and beyond.

Several people in China and Hong Kong said that, following Apple's retaliation, CAID lost support and the whole project failed to gain traction.

"This is a clear victory for Apple, and also consumer privacy, as the tech giants of China have been forced to back down and comply with Apple's rules," said Rich Bishop, chief executive of AppInChina, a leading publisher of international software in China.

"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," added Alex Bauer, head of product marketing at adtech group Branch.

"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."

ByteDance did not respond to FT's requests for comment, while Tencent and Baidu declined to comment. Apple meanwhile simply reiterated that its "App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world" and that "apps that are found to disregard the user's choice will be rejected".

Despite being backed by the state-backed CAA and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a research institute directly under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, it's not clear if these groups had the full backing of Beijing.

Similarly, it's unknown if all the groups involved knew that use of CAID was a violation of Apple's policies, although some of those involved reportedly said they believed CAID had Apple's "stamp of approval."

Either way, it appears that Apple's early crackdown on apps that tried to circumvent App Tracking Transparency has had the intended effect of discouraging similar attempts, while successfully avoiding a showdown with the Chinese authorities over its wider use.

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.

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
Apple Pay Later feature 1

Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later

Monday June 17, 2024 11:44 am PDT by
Apple is discontinuing Apple Pay Later, the buy now, pay later feature that it just launched last October. Apple Pay Later is being discontinued as of today, but people who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to continue to pay them off and manage them through the Wallet app. Apple announced plans to end the feature in a statement provided to 9to5Mac, which also notes that...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...

Top Rated Comments

ian87w Avatar
39 months ago
Good work Apple.
Now about that Zuckerberg guy's apps...
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bug-Creator Avatar
39 months ago

Obviously bad but leaked by Apple to justify 1 App Store. Why can’t the platform mandate that all AppStore’s that join the platform adopt the same privacy rules and let the free-market determine price, sales and promotions?
That is, to put it nicely a rather naive idea……
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheOldChevy Avatar
39 months ago

Obviously bad but leaked by Apple to justify 1 App Store. Why can’t the platform mandate that all AppStore’s that join the platform adopt the same privacy rules and let the free-market determine price, sales and promotions?
This is already the case today. You can buy an Android phone if you don't want to use the App Store.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
39 months ago

Apple sure has pissed! off A LOT of companies — hitting them in their Surveillance Retail revenue.
Only a company the size and cash flow of Apple could do this. A smaller company would get knee capped. When you see negative stories in corporate media about Apple, give the above sentences some thought before assuming the story is true.
This just strengths my conviction that pro-user and anti-developer moves are but two sides of the same coin. You can’t hope to please both sides at the same time, and favouring one often comes at the expense of antagonising the other.

That’s what I like about Apple. They hold enough sway over their ecosystem that they are able to implement policies like this that benefit me, the end user, even though they know it will be unpopular with developers. And developers stay because that’s where the more lucrative user base (us iOS users) reside.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
m4mario Avatar
39 months ago
While government agencies are trying to tie Apple's hand's down as much as possible, Apple here is doing everything it can to protect user privacy.
People dismiss this because Apple makes money this way. But thats the point. Apple worked very hard to make this business model work. It was not a model that worked to begin with. What worked was collecting user data and Apple could have made more money if they chose that route. A company working hard to make money doing the right thing shows commitment to the cause. The truth is, when they started doing this, they had no visible way to monetize it.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
One2Grift Avatar
39 months ago
Apple sure has pissed! off A LOT of companies — hitting them in their Surveillance Retail revenue.
Only a company the size and cash flow of Apple could do this. A smaller company would get knee capped. When you see negative stories in corporate media about Apple, give the above sentences some thought before assuming the story is true.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)