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China App Tracking Transparency workaround loses support after Apple blocks updates

TikTok parent company ByteDance was linked to CAID.

A Chinese effort to work around App Tracking Transparency rules has effectively been killed after Apple retaliated by preventing app updates from affected apps from reaching the App Store.

The introduction of App Tracking Transparency forced developers into asking permission to track an iPhone's unique device identifier known as the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers,) a move intended to enhance user privacy. However, it seems that one attempt in China to get around Apple's restriction has lost favor.

Initially reported in March, the system known as CAID claimed to provide a way to track users on Apple devices, even if the user denied permission for apps to use the IDFA. It was believed the China-supported system was a risk to ATT functionally working, especially as regional tech giants such as TikTok parent company ByteDance and Tencent were examining the effort.

Despite the potential to work around Apple's system and related policies that effectively banned anyone from performing per-device tracking in alternate ways, it appears that CAID is less of a threat than it was. According to the Financial Times, it's due to Apple's decision to respond to the privacy threat.

Shortly after reports on CAID surfaced, Apple seemingly retaliated by blocking apps that it had discovered were adding CAID support to software updates, preventing them from being distributed in the App Store. After the retaliation, CAID lost support and effectively halted.

Backed by the state-backed China Advertising Association and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the effort appeared to have considerable support from big tech companies in the region. It is unclear if CAID actually had support from the Chinese government, nor whether firms involved in CAID knew it went against Apple's policies.

Spokespeople for some companies that took part in CAID believed it was approved by Apple, though it did not. The CAA claimed to the report it was "actively communicating" with Apple on the matter.

"This is a clear victory for Apple, and also consumer privacy, as the tech giants of China have been forced to back down and comply with Apple's rules," said AppInChina chief executive Rich Bishop.

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