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Flouting of Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules puts Meta under a class action microscope

Space Black iPhone 14 Pro
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Meta finds itself in the crosshairs of a class action suit over the way it uses a workaround to bypass Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules.

App Tracking Transparency (ATT) was designed to prevent companies from tracking users from one app to the next for the purpose of advertising. Meta and other companies have since found that they can bypass that by tracking what happens in in-app web browsers within Facebook and Instagram. And it's that move that could see it face a new class action lawsuit out of San Francisco, reports Bloomberg.

All tracked out

According to the report, two Facebook users "accused the company of skirting Apple’s 2021 privacy rules and violating state and federal laws limiting the unauthorized collection of personal data." This is actually the second complaint of its type — Bloomberg notes that a similar one was filed in the same court last week.

The suit is based on research by Felix Krause who discovered that meta can inject code into its in-app browser that tracks people's activities even if they previously asked the app not to track them via an ATT prompt. That's thought to also include any passwords that are entered via the in-app browser.

"Responding to the report (by Krause,) Meta acknowledged that the Facebook app monitors browser activity, but denied it was illegally collecting user data," Bloomberg points out, while it hasn't so far responded to requests for comment on this latest lawsuit.

Apple's ATT is thought to be costing Meta billions of dollars, with the vast majority of iPhone users choosing not to allow apps to track them.

Privacy has become one of the best iPhone selling points for Apple and customers alike and ATT is part of that. The fact that companies like Meta have been circumventing it is a big deal, but it remains to be seen what comes of this class action lawsuit and whether it will force any change of heart on Meta's part.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.