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How iPhone apps continue to track you even after denying them any tracking


How iPhone apps continue to track you even after denying them any tracking

An independent study reveals that despite the anti-tracking features introduced by Apple last year, some iOS apps still manage to track their users for advertising purposes. How? Thanks to a technique emanating from a subsidiary of the Chinese Alibaba.

A year ago, with iOS 14.5, Apple banged its fist on the table by introducing its ATT (App Tracking Transparency) feature on the iPhone. Designed to truly give the user the choice to allow or not to allow the tracking of his activity for advertising purposes, this feature full of good intentions has shortcomings... that some platforms have rushed to exploit.

A tricky technique to flick us anyway

An independent study, the content of which has been dissected by the specialized site ArsTechnica (via 9to5Mac), tells us that a method is already used by many iOS applications to continue to monitor the user without his agreement.


The researchers behind the report focused on nine iOS apps. The latter use code, on the server side (so nothing is deployed locally on the application or on the iPhone), to generate a specific user ID, even when the latter has refused any tracking using the ATT feature. As reported by 9to5Mac, this code appears to be provided by a subsidiary of Chinese giant Alibaba, which is subsequently able to track the generated ID from one application to another.

Towards a new turn of the screw on Apple's side?

This tricky technique thus makes it possible to maintain effective advertising tracking, in total violation of the user's consent. And unfortunately, it could be quite widespread. Of the 1759 apps tested as part of the study, a third say they no longer collect any user data, but 80 percent of them still have at least one tracking library, 9to5Mac points out.

Now it remains to be seen what Apple's response will be. Because if its ATT feature has already reduced wild ad tracking, it turns out to be imperfect and does not protect iPhone users as well as expected. We know that Apple will present iOS 16 on June 6, during its WWDC, it is possible that the firm will add to its system new features to strengthen the effectiveness of its App Tracking Transparency. Case to follow, but it would be surprising if Apple left it at that.


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