Some iOS Apps Are Denying Features to Force Tracking

Apps like eBay and Outlook are withholding functionality if tracking is disabled

Some iOS users have reported that apps like eBay and Microsoft Outlook are withholding features unless they enable app tracking.

Apple in 1OS 14.5 introduced App Tracking Transparency, which allows users to keep apps from sharing their information with third parties. Since the rollout, every app on the App Store has had to comply with these tracking policies and is not permitted to treat users differently, whether or not they've opted-in. However, some iOS users have reported that certain apps have broken those terms and are, in fact, attempting to force them to enable app tracking.


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So far, eBay appears to be the biggest culprit. The iOS app allegedly is outright rejecting third-party logins from Google accounts and the like, stating that Google Sign-In requires enabling app tracking in order to work. This has many users, like The Verge's executive editor, Dieter Bohn, wondering what's going on.

According to Rob Leathern, Google's vice president of privacy product management, Google Sign-In doesn't collect data for advertising or tracking purposes. His response to Dieter's post on Twitter states, "We make it clear in our instructions for Google Sign-in for iOS that this data isn’t used for tracking. Hope that helps!" He does not clarify whether or not Google Sign-In requires app tracking to be enabled, or if eBay's claims are accurate.

Steve Moser, editor in chief of The Tape Drive, points out a similar problem with Microsoft Outlook in a Twitter post, where he quotes a message from the Outlook app, "To connect a Facebook calendar, go to Settings > Outlook > Allow Tracking. This will be used to connect third-party calendars (like Facebook) and show you more personalized ads."

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