Fingerprinting is dead. What’s your next move?

Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash
February 2, 2021

I’ve seen some folks contend that even though Apple’s latest language is more clear than ever, the phrase “uniquely identifying” means that fingerprinting must be 100% accurate to result in a ban.

Such an interpretation is only possible if you ignore the preceding words “for the purpose of”. Fingerprinting is always probabilistic, but its purpose in attribution is to match a single converting device (e.g., install) to a single ad-engaged device (e.g., click). Failing to uniquely identify a device does not change the purpose of fingerprinting. It is simply an indication that the fingerprinting tech needs improvement.

Also, it’s important to remember Apple’s motivations in all this. It does not benefit them to allow a form of tracking that is not controllable by or transparent to them or their users. Fingerprinting has always been the most anti-privacy tracking method available on both mobile and desktop. Apple didn’t spend all those resources on SKAdNetwork just to allow everyone to attribute and track outside of the ecosystem they control.

No matter how specific Apple’s language gets, there will always be someone interpreting it in just the right way to support their hopes, right up until they are banned from the app store.

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