Apple under pressure to plug loopholes in new privacy rules

Apple has come under pressure to tighten its new operations عمليات Privacy Rules ahead of Monday’s annual developer conference, after experts warned that thousands of apps continue to collect data from users who have chosen not to be tracked.

The new rules, which took effect in April as part of the iPhone’s iOS 14.5 software update, force apps to obtain consent from users to track their behavior in order to target them with ads.

However, many third parties continue to use workaround methods to identify users who disagree, which critics argue has created confusion about what Apple’s new policies allow.

The result is that the amount of data collected from many iPhone users may not change even after they choose not to track, according to Eric Seifert, a marketing strategy consultant.

“Anyone who chooses not to be tracked right now has the same level of data collected as before,” Seufert said. “Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior they describe as highly reprehensible, so they’re kind of complicit in it.”

Sean O’Brien, founder of the Yale Privacy Lab, said Apple was “extremely deceitful” with its marketing privacy efforts Without being properly enforced to protect users.

In an email seen by the Financial Times, one vendor told its customers that it was able to continue to collect data on more than 95 percent of iOS users by collecting device and network information such as IP addresses to determine who the user is — a hidden tactic known as ” fingerprints.

Apple bans fingerprinting, telling developers they “may not derive data from a device for the purpose of uniquely identifying it,” but experts say the policy is not enforced.

Moreover, some adtech groups, whose developer clients number in the tens of thousands, believe that less flexible “probabilistic” identification methods are acceptable, because they rely on aggregated temporary data rather than creating unique or permanent hardware identifiers.

“The problem comes when you start matching that individual user based on that single data point from the device, and then you try to find the connection directly,” said Paul Mueller, CEO of Adjust, a “mobile metering partner” that helps thousands. One of the applications that runs its advertising campaigns for smartphones. “But if you group users by behavior and then match those groups, that’s something we think is in the spirit of these rules.”

Critics have said Apple’s push for privacy could backfire if it continues to allow such practices. “It became clear that iOS14 was more of a marketing promotion than an actual privacy initiative, unfortunately,” said Alex Austin, CEO of Branch, a mobile marketing platform.

“We strongly believe that users should be asked for their permission before they can be tracked,” Apple said in a statement. “Apps that are found to be ignoring user choice will be rejected.”

He declined to comment on whether he distinguishes between fingerprinting and “probabilistic matching”.

Seufert expects Apple to provide clarification soon — possibly in conjunction with its annual developer conference on Monday — which could lead to a flurry of app rejections during this month’s app review process.

If Apple waits any longer, O’Brien said, it risks legal criticism for the gap between reality and its marketing rhetoric, suggesting that the ability for third parties to track users is strictly off-limits when users ask them to stop.

He compared it to Google, which faced several lawsuits after discovering in 2018 that it was tracking the locations of its users even after they explicitly told it not to.

“Apple could find out the hard way, as Google has done in the past, if the company was subjected to lawsuits for misleading customers about privacy,” he said. “Just as it was discovered that Google Location History wasn’t actually discontinued in 2018, I think we will find that Apple still allows apps to delve deeper into the windows of consumers’ lives.”

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