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Apple wins battle for privacy in China

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A coordinated attempt by Chinese technology companies to circumvent Apple’s privacy policies was thwarted, a significant victory for the iPhone-maker in what was seen as a threat to its global privacy pressure.

Technical groups led by Baidu, Tencent and parent TikTok ByteDance had worked with two Beijing-affiliated groups to create a new way of tracking the iPhone for advertising, called CAID, that would allow them to identify users even if they refused. to let the app use Apple’s official ID, called IDFA.

CAID was developed last year and had been openly tested for months before a planned release in late March. After the Financial Times referred to its existence in mid-March, experts in advertising technology viewed the attempt as a serious risk to Apple’s global privacy rules and its $ 50 billion business in China.

Eric Seufert, a consultant, had said the coordinated test put Apple in “an impossible situation.” He said Apple should choose between rejecting the CAID, risking Beijing’s wrath, or making the embarrassing decision to allow it and acknowledging that the world’s most populous country plays by different rules.

“Apple has a catastrophe on its hands,” he wrote on Twitter.

Apple made its position clear shortly after rejecting updates to several Chinese apps it had taken by ruining CAID in its software updates from its App Store.

Many people in China and Hong Kong have said that after these refusals, CAID immediately lost support and the whole project could not gain strength.

“This is a clear victory for Apple, and also for consumer privacy, since China’s technology giants have been forced to back down and abide by Apple’s rules,” said Rich Bishop, chief executive of AppInChina, a leading international software publisher in China. .

“The Chinese app ecosystem was collectively pushing the bull with CAID, under the theory that Apple couldn’t afford to ban every major app on the market,” adds Alex Bauer, head of product marketing for the adtech Branch group. .

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“Apple has called its bluff, and appears to have reasserted control of the situation by aggressively grabbing articles on early adopters, before the consortium gains real momentum.”

ByteDance did not respond to comments. Tencent and Baidu declined to comment. Apple did not specifically mention the CAID, but reiterated that its “terms and guidelines of the App Store apply equally to all developers around the world” and that “applications that are found to be ignorant of the choice of l ‘users will be rejected.’

Although CAID has been led by the state-sponsored China Advertising Association, 2,000 and the Chinese Academy of Information and Communication Technology, a research institute directly under the Ministry of Industry and Development. Information technology, it is unclear whether these groups had the full support of Beijing.

Nor is it obvious that the groups knew that CAID was violating Apple’s policies, that its gray areas were being carefully examined in the United States and abroad.

Spokesmen for some of the companies involved in the effort said they believed CAID had Apple’s approval stamp, and the CAA, whose website still has information on CAID, including an application form, had previously said FT who was “actively communicating” with the technology giant.

If CAID had gained momentum and received the full support of Beijing, the repercussions could have spread. A person familiar with the CAA’s strategy said the group was also working on an Android identifier, known as an OID, but the CAA first wanted to test the waters on the smaller iPhone market.

Bishop said that if Chinese companies now complied with Apple’s rules, it would be likely to boost Search Ads, Apple’s App Store advertising activity, where developers can pay for their app to be the first result. for given keywords. The service has been around for five years in the United States, but became available only in China last month. “It’s one of the few ways left to accurately target Chinese iOS users,” he said.


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