Apple accused of ‘hypocrisy’ and “cynicism” by ad industry coalition over its iPhone anti-tracking policy

An ad industry trade group, which includes Meta and Google as members, has accused Apple of “hypocrisy” and “cynicism” over its iPhone anti-tracking policy.

Apple iPhone privacy

Apple’s apps require user permission before tracking them across apps and websites owned by other companies

According to Ad Age, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s CEO David Cohen accused Apple of attacking the ad industry from the inside, saying Apple represents “cynicism and hypocrisy.” IAB is an organization that develops standards to be used across the industry to control and regulate online advertising.

Speaking at IAB’s annual leadership meeting, Cohen said:

“While there is 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 says while Apple’s apps require user permission before tracking them across apps and websites owned by other companies, the company can easily track its own users without accountability. Cohen refers to a feature launched in April 2021 called App Tracking Transparency, which forces apps to ask users for permission 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.”

Apple-App Tracking Transparency

According to Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi, Apple requires third-party apps to ask for user permission before tracking them, but the company’s stock apps won’t, since they do not track users. Frederighi explained that no Apple app would have the ATT pop-up because “there’s no Apple app or service that tracks users.” If Apple launched an app or service that could track users, it would comply with the company’s own App Store policy, Federighi added.

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