Apple’s introduction of the feature App Tracking Transparency has shaken up the digital advertising industry, but according to a new report, the decision to implement this technology was not made so much to attack technological rivals, but rather to solve a problem introduced by the technology.
Meta, for example, is among the companies most affected by the tracking transparency built into iOS, because not tracking a significant number of users for advertising purposes will result in billions of dollars in less revenue. However, it seems that Apple’s intention has more to do with trying to protect user privacy by limiting the power of a system the company itself had created.
As reported by The Information, multiple sources within Apple have insisted that Meta and other companies are not the primary goals of app tracking transparency, as the primary goal was to prevent forms unauthorized tracking devices exploited by marketers. .
Apple executives have acknowledged that they created a major problem in digital tracking by developing the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a unique device identifier that marketers leveraged to track data on a specific device and thus deliver targeted advertisements. “They opened a proverbial Pandora’s box”said Eric Schmitt, analyst at Gartner.
IDFA was created shortly after Erik Neuenschwander took over the privacy engineering team at Apple, with the goal of offering a relatively harmless tool for targeted advertising. Rather than a direct tracking code associated with a device, the IDFA used a 32-character random string to track users across devices, with the option for the user to opt-out.
However, as the advertising industry evolved and became more dependent on surveillance, the Apple team became concerned that the surveillance was becoming too invasive. Many apps and services combine data to create profiles, as well as abusive IDFAs to track a user’s physical location.
In addition to massive data collection, Apple’s privacy engineering team found that some apps were not honoring users’ choice to disable IDFA because some developers were ignoring these settings. In 2016, Neuenschwander told his colleagues that he regretted creating the IDFA.
In 2019, following pressure from privacy advocates who wanted Apple to do more, Apple’s chief software engineer Craig Federighi told the privacy team to work to fix the privacy issue. ‘IDFA with “high priority”.
The senior privacy engineers then spent several months discussing the impact the IDFA throttling would also have on the App Store. In addition, there were also fears that developers and advertisers would turn to investing on Android rather than iOS. AId’s advertising network would also be affected, raising concerns about any changes to Apple’s marketing platform.
In the end, the leaders settled on ATT as it is today, handing control over to the user depending on the application. Only four people worked on the project in nine months, in time to catch the news during WWDC 2020. Further changes were made at the request of Google and Meta, although other requests were apparently denied by Apple because they would have violated the privacy of users.
Shortly after its introduction, Apple faced efforts to circumvent ATT, but for now the situation seems to be under control.