Class Action Lawsuit against Meta for violating iOS Anti-Tracking Rules

Class Action Lawsuit against Meta for violating iOS Anti-Tracking Rules

A new lawsuit has been filed against Meta, saying that despite Apple standards banning the practice, Meta employed programs to track and gather user data. This year’s analysis by security researcher Felix Krause, who confirmed that the iOS apps for Instagram and Facebook track users’ web activities, is what gave rise to the complaint. Within both apps, Meta created its own modified browser, injecting Meta’s JavaScript code (known as the “Meta Pixel”) into each loaded website rather than utilizing Safari to do so. According to Krause, this code gives Meta the ability to monitor “any user interactions, like every button & link tapped, text selections, screenshots, as well as any form inputs, like passwords, addresses, and credit card numbers.”

Although there are clear moral ramifications in this situation, Meta Pixel also contravenes Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy. Apps must obtain users’ consent before tracking them across websites owned by other companies, which Meta apparently failed to do.

The moment you visit a third-party site within Instagram or Facebook, you’re being tracked by Meta Pixel.

The lawsuit claims that when Meta developed and maintained Meta Pixel, it purposefully avoided Apple’s ATT policy. It was filed on Wednesday by two Facebook users and was first spotted by Bloomberg Law. The lawsuit states that this enables Meta to “intercept, monitor, and record its users’ interactions and conversations with third parties, supplying Meta with data that it compiles, analyzes, and uses to increase its advertising revenue.” This motion is closely related to a class action lawsuit (Mitchell v. Meta Platforms, Inc.), filed last week, in which a user claimed Meta Pixel had violated the Wiretap Act and other laws pertaining to personal privacy.

It is hardly surprising that the plaintiffs believe Meta introduced Meta Pixel to increase ad revenue: Building a custom in-app browser like Meta’s takes a lot of effort and money, and the business would have required a very good reason to invest those resources on the browser instead of, like, anything else.

Furthermore, it is not really unexpected that Meta Pixel even exists. Along with a long history of privacy abuses, Meta (formerly Facebook) has openly fought ATT since the beginning. The main complaint against ATT, according to Meta, was that it would hurt companies (who, it should be emphasized, are crucial to Meta’s aforementioned ad revenue). It appears that Meta complained about ATT in public but managed to get around it in private.

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