This was something that companies like Facebook took great issue with. However, it turns out that maybe these companies might not need to be so worried after all. In a study by Lockdown Privacy that was initially picked up by The Washington Post, it seems to suggest that the anti-tracking feature built into iOS is kind of a dud.
According to the study, the researchers studied over a course of five months the top ten apps in the App Store to see if the feature actually stops tracking like it claims.
“Using the open source Lockdown Privacy app and manual testing, we found that App Tracking Transparency made no difference in the total number of active third-party trackers, and had a minimal impact on the total number of third-party tracking connection attempts. We further confirmed that detailed personal or device data was being sent to trackers in almost all cases. ATT was functionally useless in stopping third-party tracking, even when users explicitly choose ‘Ask App Not To Track’.”
The study even goes on to suggest that the feature might actually be dangerous because it could lull users into a false sense of security as they think that their privacy is being protected. They claim that the flaw of the feature is that it relies on the “honor system” and that it’s up to developers to be honest. However, if developers see that other developers are lying, they have no incentive to be forthcoming either.
Apple has since responded to the study where according to spokesman Fred Sainz, “Apple believes that tracking should be transparent to users and under their control. If we discover that a developer is not honoring the user’s choice, we will work with the developer to address the issue, or they will be removed from the App Store.”