Snapchat owner Snap has been investigating ways to circumvent Apple’s new privacy rules, but claims to stop the program before the rules begin.
The company behind Snapchat, Snap, is reportedly investigating ways to track users without their knowledge, bypassing Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency rules. Apple’s new system will force developers to accurately disclose the information they are collecting and provide users with the ability to opt out of tracking. This leaves some of the industry’s leading companies concerned about how transparency will affect their bottom line and understanding alternative solutions.
The app tracks users in a variety of ways, some of which are identifiable and some of which are nonexistent. However, the former is the most profitable, and many apps are secretly collecting and sharing user data for targeted advertising campaigns. Not surprisingly, many users opt out when asked if their app can share financial information or browsing history. As a result, developers are investigating workarounds to track users without violating Apple’s new privacy rules.
Related: Can Apple and Facebook resolve privacy disputes?
The Financial Times reports that Snap has investigated how to secretly track users without their consent. This technique uses probability matching. It collects large amounts of user data from third-party companies and matches it against their own user data in an attempt to identify individual users. Snapchat wasn’t the first app to investigate such a thing. TikTok used a similar strategy to circumvent Apple’s new consumer priority policy. In a comment to this publication, Snap acknowledged that the workaround violated Apple’s policy and stopped the program before the new rule took effect. To make matters worse, the company also expressed the belief that it is still acceptable to collect cohort data data about a group of users rather than individuals, although the experts talking to the Financial Times disagreed.
Apple App Tracking Transparency: Why
Apple announced new App Tracking Transparency rules at the Worldwide Developers Conference last June. The new system requires app developers to disclose the information that apps collect and share about users through new, easy-to-understand nutrition labels. These labels categorize data tracking into the data used for tracking and the data linked to you, and further into specific categories such as contact information, browsing history, location, and financial information. Starting with iOS 14.5, users must agree to each type of tracking, just as they previously had to allow access to their contact list and device storage. By prominently displaying this information and requesting permission for each area, Apple can make more informed decisions about which apps customers will use and streamline confidential information gathering. I’m stopping it.
Targeted advertising is a big company. As a result, many apps are keen to collect as much user data as possible. Facebook generated over 84 billion advertising revenues in 2020 alone and wasn’t particularly happy when Apple decided to shed light on the number of users being tracked. Unfortunately, standard practice so far has hidden these details in long-term service contracts and exposed them to the darkness that many people actually agree to share.
As the saying goes, information is power, and that is exactly the driving force behind this initiative. Apple users must agree to tracking in order to continue to use many apps, but providing consumers with the opportunity to opt out of what apps they are collecting about is a consumer. It’s a net plus for you. App developers may be concerned about lost revenue, but if simple transparency is ready to bring such a mess to the mobile advertising industry, it’s too long in the shadows. It’s a good indicator that it’s an industry that has been in operation for some time.
Next: How to check the data collected by the iPhone app
Source: Financial Times, Statista
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About the author Christopher Coke (21 articles published)
Chris has been writing technically since 2015. He is a hardware and technology editor at MMORPG.com and can also be found in the IGN and PC perspectives. He lives in New York with his wife and four children.
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