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Apple wins privacy battle in China


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

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

CAID was developed last year and had been tested openly for months before a planned release in late March. After the Financial Times reported its existence, ad technology experts said the project marked a serious risk to Apple’s global privacy rules and its $ 50 billion business in China.

Eric Seufert, a consultant, said the coordinated attempt had placed Apple in “an impossible situation”. He said Apple would have to choose between rejecting CAID, risking Beijing’s wrath, or making the embarrassing decision to allow it and concede that the world’s most populous country has different rules.

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

Apple clarified its position soon after by blocking updates to several Chinese apps that it surprised by listing CAID in their software updates from its App Store.

Several people in China and Hong Kong said that following Apple’s retaliation, CAID lost its support and the whole project failed to gain traction.

“This is a clear victory for Apple, and also for consumer privacy, as Chinese tech giants have been forced to back down and comply with Apple’s rules,” said Rich Bishop, chief executive of ‘AppInChina, one of the leading international software vendors in China. .

“The Chinese app ecosystem was collectively baiting the bull with CAID, under the theory that Apple couldn’t afford to ban all major apps from the market,” added Alex Bauer, product marketing manager at Branch. Group adtech.

“Apple called their bluff and seems to have reasserted control of the situation by aggressively hitting the fingers of early adopters, before the consortium takes real momentum. “

ByteDance did not respond to requests for comment. Tencent and Baidu declined to comment. Apple did not specifically mention CAID, but reiterated that its “App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world” and that “apps that disregard choice of the user will be rejected ”.

Although CAID was headed by the China Advertising Association and the Chinese Academy of Information and Communication Technology, a research institute reporting directly to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology , state-backed, 2,000 member, it was not clear whether these groups had Beijing’s full support.

It was also not clear that the groups knew that CAID had violated Apple’s policies, the gray areas of which are carefully scrutinized in the United States and abroad.

Spokesmen for some of the companies involved in the effort said they believe CAID has Apple’s seal of approval, and CAA, whose website still has information about CAID, including a form. request, previously told the FT that she was “actively communicating” with the technician. giant.

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

Bishop said that if Chinese companies comply with Apple’s rules, it would likely bolster Search Ads, Apple’s advertising activity on the App Store, where developers can pay to have their app be the top result for given keywords. The service is almost five years old in the United States, but only became available in China last month. “This is one of the few remaining ways to accurately target Chinese iOS users,” he said.

Daily Bulletin

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