Apple Accused of 'Hypocrisy' by Ad Industry Coalition Over Its Anti-Tracking Policy

Apple has been accused of "hypocrisy" and "cynicism" over its iPhone anti-tracking policy by an ad industry trade group that includes Meta and Google as members.

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is an organization that develops standards to be used across the industry to control and regulate online advertising. It has Google, Meta, Adobe, and many other companies as members. This week, IAB CEO David Cohen had a few things to say about Apple's approach to ‌iPhone‌ policy and privacy.

Speaking at IAB's annual leadership meeting (via Ad Age), Cohen accused Apple of "attacking" the ad industry from the inside, saying Apple represents "cynicism and hypocrisy." Cohen said "while there are no shortage of extremists attacking our industry from the outside, there are some attacking it from the inside out. Most notably, Apple exemplifies the cynicism and hypocrisy that underpins the prevailing extremist view."

Cohen explains that while Apple requires apps to ask users for permission before tracking them across apps and websites owned by other companies, the company can track its own users without accountability. Cohen refers to a feature called App Tracking Transparency (ATT), launched in April 2021, that forces apps to ask users for explicit consent before tracking them. "It can't be that 'personalization' in the Apple ecosystem equals 'tracking' outside of it," Cohen said. "That's not really a fair fight."

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App Tracking Transparency pop-up required for apps

Apple requires third-party apps to ask users for permission before tracking them, but the company's stock apps do not since they don't track users, according to Apple's senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in April 2021 about ATT, Federighi explained that no Apple app would have the ATT pop-up since "there's no Apple app or service that tracks users." Federighi added that if Apple launched an app or service that tracked users, it would comply with its own App Store policy.

Apple is currently facing a class action lawsuit that alleges it records users' mobile activity without their consent, despite Apple's privacy assurances. The lawsuit accuses Apple of providing "utterly false" assurances that ‌iPhone‌ users are in control of their data. "Apple records, tracks, collects and monetizes analytics data — including browsing history and activity information — regardless of what safeguards or 'privacy settings' consumers undertake to protect their privacy," the lawsuit reads.

Apple's ‌App Store‌ policy and approach to privacy have been an increasingly more prominent concern for international organizations and companies, from the EU to Meta, Google, and Spotify. This week, Spotify and others penned a letter to the EU calling Apple's policy "anti-competitive" and "harmful" for companies.

Tag: Privacy

Top Rated Comments

fatTribble Avatar
9 months ago
If it’s between Apple and Google/Facebook, my trust will go to Apple every time.
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
9 months ago

You think Apple got to 2 trillion dollars worth by being fair and moral?

You can't force people to buy your product. I think Apple got to $2T by producing a product people want to buy.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ctrlos Avatar
9 months ago
The ad industry needs to go back to its older practices of market research rather than data scraping. Roadside and Magazine adverts are positioned just so because of the chance they might catch the eye of a focus group of individuals (eg a luxury metal watch in a mens magazine or a fast food advert 2 miles from its location). Products sold just well enough without the huge invasion of privacy that comes with data scraping and theft.

Its not actually that difficult to load adverts based on keywords rather than web history. If I'm looking at a videogames news portal then an advert for a controller is going to be aimed in the right direction just as is a cough medicine loaded up when a user searches for 'coughs in children'. Cookies don't work because they work after the fact. If I spent an hour looking at lawnmowers on then seeing an advert for over the next few days isn't selling me anything I didn't already see.

And please, for the love of everything good ditch and burn video adverts on text pages. Nobody likes them and they just get in the way. If someone jammed a YouTube video in my face every time I turned the page in a newspaper on the train then they'd get a broken nose.

Commercials during YouTube videos are not annoying because the same commercials are on TV. Find a more organic way to integrate your ads into text; you've been doing it for centuries in news print so it shouldn't be too hard.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dmiannay Avatar
9 months ago
"They are the same. Of you investigate, Apple is using your data illegaly too."

@Kulfon: You sound certain about this. Can you please provide the receipts showing actual evidence, not accusations or lawsuits? You may be right, but I'd like to see actual evidence before believing it is happening. Thanks.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
evertjr Avatar
9 months ago
If google and meta are upset then I'm happy and Apple is right.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
d686546s Avatar
9 months ago
I hate the modern advertising industry with all of my heart. I do not want to be tracked, analysed, personalised etc etc etc without my consent. I don't want to be monetised all of the time. I'm happy to pay for good services.

I don't for one second believe they are not self-serving here, but that doesn't mean that they may not be right. I have no idea, frankly, but I equally wouldn't dismiss it. It's not like Apple hasn't been trying to monetise everything and anything under the sun lately.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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