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Pixalate Week in Review: August 22 - 26, 2022

Aug 27, 2022 1:00:00 PM

This week's review of ad fraud and privacy in the digital advertising space:

Pixalate Ad Fraud Study August 2022: 90% of purported iCloud Private Relay Traffic May Be Invalid (IVT)

iCloud Private Relay breakdown Cover Graphic

Pixalate conducted a study of Apple’s iCloud Private Relay, covering over 70 billion transactions analyzed by Pixalate over a 3-month period, and provided insights into the apparent impact of iCloud Private Relay so far.

  • According to Pixalate’s analysis, iCloud Private Relay traffic appears to be associated with around 21% of the traffic purported to come from Apple Devices on both mobile and desktop Safari.
  • However, there appear to be discrepancies in most of the traffic that are not in line with Apple’s description of the expected behavior. Almost all of such traffic appears to be invalid (IVT).
  • Only around 1%-2% of traffic from purported Apple devices was detected as originating from an iCloud Private Relay IP and exhibiting the expected behavior of devices behind iCloud Private Relay, hinting at the actual adoption rate of the service.

The concerns around iCloud Private Relay are driven by the fear of losing accurate user IP Address information, which could have impacts in the following areas: fingerprinting, location-based advertising, frequency capping, measurement and ad fraud detection.

Adweek: Advertisers at Risk of Unknowingly Collecting Children’s Data, Violating COPPA


AdWeek published an article detailing the findings of Pixalate’s Q2 2022 COPPA Scorecard report, saying, “a report by fraud detection platform Pixalate claims that a number of apps aimed at children are violating COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) by unknowingly sharing data signals.”

“Furthermore, Pixalate was unable to locate privacy policies, or policies were not declared, for 16% (24,209) of the apps on Apple’s store that are child-directed and 10% (27,427) of the apps on Google’s store that are child-directed. The report found a total of 66 U.S. registered apps continue to share geolocation data with advertisers, thereby, further violating COPPA.”

LifeWire: Your Children Are Likely Being Tracked By Some of Their Favorite Apps


LifeWire used Pixalate’s Q2 2022 COPPA Scorecard report findings in a recent article saying app developers are trying to shirk the law by pushing growing numbers of apps that collect personal information into the Apple app and Google Play stores.

“Pixalate, a fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform, examined the state of children's online privacy by scrutinizing over 4,22,000 apps that they believe are meant for use by children in both the Apple and Google Play stores. Their research found that 68% of the top 150 most popular US-registered apps and 70% of the top 1000 apps for children, which Pixalate reviewed manually, transmitted location information, while 59% requested permission to access other personal information.”

MediaPost: Ad Groups Say Proposed California Privacy Regulations Conflict With Lawccpa-privacy

MediaPost detailed a conflict in California laws this week, with newly proposed privacy regulations conflicting with their recently passed Privacy Rights Act. Several advertising advocacy groups authored a letter to the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) saying, “We are concerned that several provisions in the proposed regulations contravene the clear text” of the law. The groups propose that the CPPA revise the rules “to ensure that they align more clearly with the text” of the California Privacy Rights Act.

New whistleblower allegations could factor into Twitter vs. Musk trial


The Washington Post provided an in-depth look at how recent revelations by Twitter’s former security chief could affect the company’s upcoming legal battle against Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Musk canceled a proposed deal to buy the company for $44 billion earlier this year, citing “that the social media company is vastly undercounting the number of spam and bot accounts on its platform, and therefore overstating the number of legitimate users.”

Peiter Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security, filed a whistleblower complaint saying that Twitter did not incentivize providing the true number of fake accounts on the platform, possibly strengthening Musk’s case.

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