iOS app tracking rejection does – almost nothing

iOS App Tracking

Apple’s app tracking restriction does not limit anything.

Many users use the option introduced in iOS 14 to disable app tracking. If you are one of them and you agreed to the previous sentence, then you have already made the first mistake.

Apple’s marketing is pretty good in this respect: users think they can actually turn off tracking. But that’s not the case: you can only ask the app (and logically its developers) not to do it. And most apps don’t react to this at all. Apple doesn’t care about it either. They say it’s a problem that can only be solved voluntarily. However, anyone who has a browser with a built-in tracking blocker or has an ad blocker installed should be somewhat surprised by the statement.

Lockdown and the Washington Post checked this situation. They found the following: Even if you select the option that you do not want to be tracked when you start the app, this is still done in the majority of cases. For one thing, that’s because Apple is relatively tight about what counts as tracking in the first place. Apple states:

First, it must link user data from one app/website to another app/website. Second, it must do this specifically for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes. Third, Apple excludes a list of so-called acceptable tracking behaviors that are not considered “tracking”


So there must be “reasons” and Apple continues to decide according to some list, what passes as tracking at all. Furthermore, the so-called fingerprinting cleverly evades the fact that they have no access to the serial number of the device to clearly identify you. Instead, other technical features are used, which are completely sufficient to track you (i.e. not according to Apple’s statement). Another example: it would be forbidden to get your vehicle identification number to identify you. Instead, they simply collect all other data about your car: BMW, 3 series, red, 19″ rims, delivered on September 3rd, with this and that equipment. This way, the car – or iPhone – is also uniquely assigned, regardless of whether simpler options are forbidden or allowed.

iPhone App Tracking

Read the detailed article on the pages of the Washington Post and Lockdown. It should be mentioned that Lockdown produces and sells a firewall for the iPhone. Furthermore, they are committed to data protection and state that all their software is open source, so the code can be viewed by all.

So, in a nutshell, Apple’s great advertised feature is completely useless because the apps are not prevented by iOS from tracking at all. In the case of Yelp, for example, the number of trackers drops by a whole three. Whether you use the feature or not should be pretty much useless in everyday life. But Apple probably can’t help it: without this information, it’s harder to market advertising.

At least you have a good feeling when using it. A little bit of a blue pill.

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