Apple finally released iOS 14.5 and, with it, the new App Tracking Transparency feature that proved controversial, at least for advertisers and Facebook. The feature is designed to give users the first and last word on whether they will allow developers and advertisers to track their activities for advertising purposes. It seems, however, that the feature is behaving badly for some users, but in the way that most respects privacy, ironically.
According to Apple’s new app privacy policies, apps will have to ask users for permission to track them when they first run. Whatever the user responds to at this point can be undone in the iOS configuration, allowing them to grant or revoke tracking permissions at a more granular level. Alternatively, users can still prohibit any and all tracking as before, without asking questions.
This is how it should work in theory, but some users are reporting quite strange behavior. Some iPhone users who upgraded to iOS 14.5 are seeing the “Allow application to request tracking” key not only turned off, but also turned off with no way to turn it back on. In other words, all applications, current and new, will not be able to track affected users, or even ask for permission.
The Internet came up with theories as to why this happened. Some think it is related to iPhones for underage users or under MDM control, but those affected by the bug are not. 9to5Mac believes it may be related to whether or not the personalized ads option was disabled before the iOS 14.5 upgrade.
Regardless of the cause, this is not the intended behavior of Apple’s new privacy feature. The company has not yet answered questions, but it may just be a matter of time before a solution is implemented. Funny, it could mean that users who are experiencing the bug can be completely protected from tracking, which is probably good for Apple.