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iPhone apps can still track you regardless of what Apple claims

Some big tech companies have found loopholes in Apple’s policy.

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Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy that it enacted last year has been praised by privacy advocates across the board. But it looks like the policy isn’t quite as effective as we first thought as some apps have found loopholes to get around the new policy.

A recent research paper (PDF) from the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University took a deep dive into several apps and their tracking patterns on iOS.

The paper did find that App Tracking Transparency does make it harder to track individual iOS users. However, some big tech companies, like Facebook and Google, have found loopholes to exploit.

“Overall, our observations suggest that, while Apple’s changes make tracking individual users more difficult, they motivate a counter-movement, and reinforce existing market power of gatekeeper companies with access to large troves of first-party data. Making the privacy properties of apps transparent through large-scale analysis remains a difficult target for independent researchers, and a key obstacle to meaningful, accountable, and verifiable privacy protections,” reads the paper.

READ MORE: Apple is luring more and more people away from Android devices

Essentially, the research found that large companies with stockpiles of collected data are still able to track iOS users.

App Tracking Transparency stops trackers from learning a user’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). The IDFA is a unique identifier for iOS or iPadOS devices.

These companies use their massive data troves to create their own identifiers using other methods, including IP addresses.

At the end of the day, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency is still effective. But the big tech companies that already have massive dumps of user information will likely continue to find a way to track our device usage.

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Contributing writer with a passion for gaming and tech. Probably getting wrecked by some kids in Rocket League.

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