A tracking method launched by the China Advertising Association called CAID could dodge the new rules due to not “uniquely” identifying the user
“The App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, including Apple,” said Apple. “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.”
Now, however, a new tracking method called CAID, developed by the state-backed China Advertising Association (CAA), could be set to exploit a loophole in the wording of the new policy, allowing apps to continue tracking users after all.
According to Yang Congan, chief executive of Digital Union, speaking to the Financial Times, CAID has been specifically designed to circumvent the new restrictions, doing so by not "uniquely" identifying individual users.
The CAA represents around 2,000 companies, including giants like TikTok’s owner ByteDance and Tencent, both of whom have confirmed their testing of the technology.
The situation leaves a major headache for the Apple. On the one hand, they will reportedly have the ability to detect exactly which apps are using CAID, giving them the grounds to ban the offending apps from the AppStore. On the other hand, it is simply not feasible to ban all Chinese apps; even putting aside the geopolitical implications for a moment – which could easily see Apple banned from China entirely – the sheer scale of the Chinese app economy would be an incredible amount of revenue to pass up.
So far, Apple has seemingly refused to take a stand over possible policy infringements using CAID, but the problem may yet grow. CAID is scheduled for public release later this week, according to sources, meaning Apple could be forced to make a decision sooner rather than later.
Scruitiny on big tech companies, particularly regarding privacy and market domination, is increasing in both the US and Europe. Earlier this month, Google announced that they would no longer be using tracking cookies in an effort to increase user privacy, much to the chagrin of the advertisers. Sceptics claim, however, that the move will further reinforce Google’s hold on the market, leaving them with an unfair advantage over their competitors when it comes to user data.
Also in the news: