YouTube is facing serious accusations on a recent report from Adaytics, a research firm that closely examines online activities. The report not only claims that YouTube is showing ads that target kids, but, according to Adweek, it also suggests that it might be breaking the privacy rules Apple sets, especially regarding iPhones and iPads.
Adalytics did a big study where they looked at more than 300 times when people clicked on ads on YouTube. They found something worrisome: YouTube didn’t ask for permission from users to track their actions, which is something that Apple requires for apps on its devices.
The company that owns YouTube, Google, argues that they don’t need to show a message asking for permission because they say they’re not using any forbidden tracking signals, or in other words, they’re not doing anything wrong.
However, when people click on an ad in the YouTube app on iPhones, a special code (called WBRAID) gets attached to what they do next. This code is then used by other companies that also collect information. This could be a problem, as this code might be a way to follow what people do, and Apple has rules against that.
Google says that this code, WBRAID, is just a way to measure things and not a way to know who you are. But because it’s unique for each click and might help figure out who you are, it might not follow Apple’s rules called AppTrackingTransparency (ATT).
In the end, only Apple can decide if YouTube has done something wrong or not. This could be a big deal because following privacy rules is important in the tech world, therefore companies need to make sure they are in line with those rules.
Apple introduced ATT in April 2021, making it mandatory for iOS developers to obtain user consent in order to track their data for advertising purposes. These changes were seen as controversial, for instance, Meta (previously known as Facebook) said that ATT would cost it $10 billion in 2022 alone. However, at the end of 2022, a research showed that the feature helped Apple to grow its Search Ads adoption. Also, a recent report shows that ATT opt-in rates for mobile games increased to 37% in the second quarter of 2023.
On the other hand, there are reservations that continue to exist. Recently, the French Competition Authority announced that it has issued a statement of objections against Apple, claiming concerns that the company may have broken rules pertaining to the use of iPhone user data for advertising.