Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple's privacy rules

The Facebook creator is accused of using workarounds to track users.

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Jon Fingas
September 22, 2022 5:14 PM
Facebook logo displayed on iPhone screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on February 8, 2021. Facebook reacted negatively to Apple's privacy policy changes. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloomberg reports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

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The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

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Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple's privacy rules