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Some apps continue to monitor you even if you refuse to be tracked

Some apps continue to monitor you even if you refuse to be tracked

Since the release of iOS 14.5 in April 2021, iPhone and iPad users can see if they accept advertising cookies in their apps. baptized Application tracking transparency. (ATT), the feature caused an earthquake in the ad community, as there were fears of a crash in revenue. This is true, because only a minority of users now accept trackers.

But just because we reject slanderers doesn’t mean that there are none. This is indeed the bitter conclusion reached by a group of security researchers who analyzed the code and behavior of 1,759 iOS apps before and after implementing the ATT feature.

First, the researchers found that the number of trackers included in the apps didn’t change much. We went from 3.7 to 3.6 on average and they are still the same ones that appear at the top of the ranking: Apple, Google, Facebook, Alibaba… After all, hope gives life and some users may like personalized ads.

What’s even more surprising is that some apps still transfer data, even if the user refuses to be tracked. This data can be used to generate a device fingerprint (“fingerprinting”) or cohort tracking. This data includes the device name, model, operator, language, and time zone. Identifiers for applications can also be found there. Among the areas contacted are those of Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. “Technical” trackers – track crashes, measure applications, etc. – At the top of the list. The first ad tracker is Google’s Doubleclick, which is detected in 12% of apps.

But it gets worse: Researchers have discovered nine apps based on alternate identifiers created by Umeng, a subsidiary of Alibaba. A practice likely inconsistent with the rules of the Arms Trade Treaty. Apple was notified of this in November 2021 and the investigation is still ongoing.

The researchers concluded with the belief that the Arms Trade Treaty is not only an imperfect measure, but may also cause the opposite of what was expected. Ad players seem to be developing circumvention strategies that make the use of apps less transparent than before!

source : study report

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