Apple has been accused of “hypocrisy” and “cynicism” over its anti-iPhone tracking policy by an advertising industry trade group that includes Meta and Google as members.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is an organization that develops standards to be used throughout the industry to control and regulate online advertising. It has Google, Meta, Adobe and many other companies as members. This week, IAB CEO David Cohen had a few things to say about Apple’s approach to iPhone policy and privacy.
Speaking at the annual IAB leadership meeting (via Adage), Cohen accused Apple of “attacking” the ad industry from within, saying that Apple represents “cynicism and hypocrisy.” Cohen said that “while there is no shortage of extremists who attack our industry from the outside, there are some who attack it from the inside. In particular, Apple exemplifies the cynicism and hypocrisy that underpin the prevailing extremist view.”
Cohen explains that while Apple requires apps to ask users for permission before tracking them on apps and websites owned by other companies, the company can track its own users without liability. Cohen is referring to a feature called App Tracking Transparency (ATT), released in April 2021, that forces apps to ask users for explicit consent before tracking them. “It can’t be that ‘customization’ in the Apple ecosystem is the same as ‘tracking’ outside of it,” Cohen said. “That’s not really a fair fight.”
An App Tracking Transparency popup is required for apps
Apple requires third-party apps to ask users for permission before tracking them, but the company’s stock apps don’t because they don’t track users, according to Apple’s vice president of hardware engineering Craig Federighi. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in April 2021 about ATT, Federighi explained that no Apple app would have the ATT popup as “there is no Apple app or service that tracks users.” Federighi added that if Apple were to release an app or service that tracked users, it would comply with its own App Store policy.
Apple is currently facing a class action lawsuit alleging that it logs users’ mobile activity without their consent and despite guarantees of privacy. The lawsuit accuses Apple of providing “totally false” assurances that iPhone users are in control of their data. “Apple records, tracks, collects, and monetizes analytics data, including browsing history and activity information, regardless of security measures or “privacy settings” consumers take to protect their privacy,” the lawsuit reads. .