June 29, 2022
June 29, 2022
While writing your mobile apps in React Native prevents you from a lot of platform-specific silliness, there's a lot you still need to face. One of such deadly traps is Apple's App Tracking Transparency guidelines. Let's discuss what it means in practise for us - regular developers, just trying to go about our day, building the next "Foursquare for dogs" (Fursquare? 🤔).
The scope of us who care is pretty big. It includes everybody who publishes their apps to Apple's store and would like them to pass the review. You never know when you might face a rejected build.
Apparently, different things to different people. Of course, the most important question to start us off would be what Apple thinks it means. Their definition is based on a couple of things:
It seems pretty straightforward how to avoid having to show the AppTrackingTransparency modal - just don't share user's data with others and don't partake in targeted advertising. Unfortunately, it's not that simple as we'll soon discover.
Well, no. Apple's definition of tracking is very particular and it doesn't fit with GDPR's idea of data protection. For example, Apple's only concerned with using the data for advertising purposes, while GDPR doesn't really care what you'd be storing the data for.
Unfortunately, you'll still need to abide by the Apple rules and display the App Tracking Transparency popup and then abide by the EU rules and show data protection information (and let your user choose whether they're okay with it). Also, as a side-effect of Apple's guidelines, they'd also like you to show the Apple modal first and only if the user accepts it you should show the GDPR one. This means that a user scared by the first one will never have a chance to opt-in to GDPR-compliant data collection.
If you find yourself fitting the Apple's criteria, you'll need to display the AppTrackingTransparency popup that shows your users a scary message about how you're apparently a creep that wants to follow them everywhere. So what?
Don't track your users. That's the easiest way out of this mess.
If you really need this data, we have a few practical tips for you what to pay attention to:
First of all, it needs to be said that reviewing this stuff by Apple is really difficult. They have no way of knowing what's happening on your backend, so no way to really know what you're doing with user's data. That's why sometimes they might err on the side of rejecting a build that seems suspicious.
Secondly, there's a huge time limitation on the review process. I imagine it takes minutes only and the reviewer will not have time to ponder the exact legal situation in your app. I've witnessed once a reviewer of an app that I've worked on to force the App Tracking Transparency modal even though we abided by all Apple's rules.
But the review mistakes can go both ways. There's a Hungarian medical information app that explains that you need to enable tracking to be able to sign in (sic!) and refuses to work without it. Even though this violates both the Apple's rules and the GDPR, last time I checked it was still free to do that. Maybe due to COVID special rules, maybe due to unreliable review process.
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