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What you need to know

  • A new report says China might be working on a bypass to Apple's iOS 14 tracking changes.
  • The China Advertising Association is reportedly testing a new feature that can get around the changes.
  • The report also claims Apple has turned a blind eye to the use of the tool so far.

A new report claims that China is working on a bypass to Apple's iOS 14 privacy changes which prevent users from being tracked if they opt-out.

According to a new report from the Financial Times, as reported by MacRumors:

According to a new report by the Financial Times, however, the state-backed China Advertising Association (CAA) is testing a tool that could be used to bypass the new Apple privacy rules and allow companies to continue tracking users without their consent.

The new method of tracking users is called CAID, which is said to be undergoing testing by tech companies and advertisers in China. According to the report, TikTok owner ByteDance has already provided its developers with an 11-page guide suggesting that advertisers "use the CAID as a substitute if the user's IDFA is unavailable."

The CAA reportedly claims its tool is not in opposition to Apple's privacy measures, and that it is actively communicating with Apple. Apple told the FT that its App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, stating "We believe strongly that users should be asked for their permission before being tracked. Apps that are found to disregard the user's choice will be rejected."

However, the report claims that "two people briefed on the issue" stated that Apple is aware of the CAID tool and has "so far turned a blind eye to its use." Apple can reportedly detect and stop the CAID tool, but might not want to upset the government:

Three people with knowledge of briefings between Apple and developers also said the Cupertino, California-based company would be wary of taking strong action, despite a clear violation of its stated rules if CAID has the support of China's tech giants as well as its government agencies.

CAID could be released as soon as this week, and whilst it was made for app developers in China, foreign companies including a French gaming group have reportedly shown interest.

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When iOS 14.5 is released to the public, all apps on your iPhone will have to ask permission before using an IDFA number to track your activity from app to app, a key tool used by companies like Facebook to sell targeted advertising to businesses.