Apple’s IDFA challenged with CAID: Indirect user identification and tracking can bypass iOS restrictions that boost user privacy?

Apple IDFA CAID
China’s CAID can bypass Apple’s IDFA policies? Pic credit: Jan Vašek/Pixabay

Chinese tech companies are apparently developing a new technology that can circumvent Apple Inc.’s policies deployed to protect user privacy. The CAID could be a security and privacy challenge to Apple’s IDFA platform that mandates apps seek user consent for tracking.

It seems quite a few Chinese, state-backed tech companies are actively exploring technologies to bypass Apple Inc.’s soon-to-be-deployed privacy policies. The CAID technology reportedly skirts the security and privacy technologies with indirect user identification and tracking.

What is China Advertising Association Identifier (CAID) technology to keep tracking iPhone users?

Apple Inc. is about to release the latest version of its iOS operating system for iPhone (iOS 14.5). The new iteration of the smartphone OS can potentially prevent apps from grabbing or harvesting user data without informing and seeking consent from iPhone users.

Until now, apps had the benefit of Apple’s IDFA system. The platform allowed app developing companies to see who clicks on ads and which apps users download.

However, with the new update, apps will have to see explicit consent or permission from users to deploy tracking mechanisms. Needless to add, even the most casual user might think multiple times before giving consent. After all, users might not joyfully agree to be tracked across the length and breadth of iPhone’s iOS ecosystem and potentially, the internet.

Simply put, the default access to Apple’s IDFA is going away. This would invariably and significantly impact the multibillion-dollar online advertising industry. Needless to add, tech giants such as Facebook, have already begun campaigns to sway user opinion in favor of tracking.

As a response to Apple Inc.’s new policies, the state-backed China Advertising Association (CAA) has reportedly launched a new way to track and identify iPhone users called CAID. Several members of the CAA have apparently started testing the new technology.

Reports indicate the CAID technology can track users while still complying with Apple Inc.’s policies. CAID deploys novel tracking methods.

They reportedly do not have specific user identifiers. It is quite possible that Chinese tech giants may have developed something along the lines of Google’s FLoC.

ByteDance and Tencent actively testing China Advertising Association Identifier technology to keep tracking iPhone users without consent?

Reports claim the CAID can bypass the new Apple privacy rules and allow companies to continue tracking users without their consent. Internet companies can use CAID if Apple’s IDFA is not available, apparently suggests the CAA.

As expected, Apple has categorically claimed that its “App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world”. The company added, “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”.

Despite Apple’s strong insistence on equality, experts hint Apple might just bend its rules for Chinese tech companies like ByteDance and Tencent. The company wouldn’t risk an expensive and detrimental ban in one of its largest markets, reason some experts.

The CAA has reportedly offered up CAID for testing. Moreover, several local Chinese developers are actively testing the same. If that’s not enough, several foreign advertising companies have reportedly applied on behalf of their Chinese divisions.

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