Earlier this week, a report revealed that many companies including Facebook and Snapchat are using a loose interpretation of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) guidelines to track users across other apps and services even when they have asked not to be tracked. A new report from The Information goes in-depth on the workaround companies are using, with a focus on Snapchat.
Additional details revealed regarding how companies are circumventing App Tracking Transparency
While Apple has instructed developers that they “may not derive data from a device for the purpose of uniquely identifying it,” some developers have interpreted that to mean that they can observe “signals” from an iPhone at a group level allowing them to tailor advertising with certain behaviors but not associated with unique IDs as long as that data is anonymized and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.
As a result, even though nearly 80% of iOS users have opted out of app tracking, app developers are using the “wiggle room” to share data that could be used to identify users later.
According to The Information, Snap is using a workaround which it has named “Advanced Conversions” which allows it to receive detailed data from advertising companies about the activities of individual iOS users.
Using that data, Snap is able to measure the effectiveness of ads, even if a user asked the apps sending data to Snap not to track them. It is important to note that the data, which includes who saw an ad and what they did on the app afterward, is encrypted. But, Snap can still analyze that data and offer information to advertisers on the efficacy of its ads.
Snap does not believe it is violating App Tracking Transparency guideless, despite tracking users. Facebook and Google have also reportedly created similar systems to gather data on iOS users. While Facebook did not respond to a request for comment, Google said that it uses data for iOS users who have opted out of cross-app tracking in a way that is compliant with Apple’s rules.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Cupertino tech giant said that its ATT feature has “received strong support from privacy advocates and regulators.” It added that “a user’s data belongs to them and they should get to decide whether to share their data and with whom.”