Apple is planning to launch new privacy features on its products over the next few months despite opposition from social media giant Facebook.
Apple’s new privacy feature will require app developers to ask for permission to track iOS users for ad targeting. The company announced the launch of the new feature on Data Privacy Day, Jan. 28, after having delayed the launch to give developers more time to comply.
The new update for Apple products is IOS 14 and is now live in its beta form but will be made available for non-beta users this upcoming spring.
The software update makes it so that companies that track users’ internet activity for advertising purposes, such as Facebook, would no longer be able to collect a person’s advertising identifier known as an IDFA without express consent.
The IDFA is a unique code that the advertising industry assigns to each device. Knowing a device’s IDFA helps advertisers determine if its ads are effective. The IDFA is especially relevant when the advertisers have shown users the same ad in multiple places. Facebook uses the IDFA code as part of what is known as the Audience Network, which is its ad network for developers.
Under Apple’s new opt-in requirement, app makers can still use other information Apple users give them to target advertising even if the user opts not to let the app track them. However, that information cannot be shared with another company for ad tracking under Apple’s new policy. Sharing with other third-party companies is what Apple refers to when it uses the word tracking in its statements.
Apple has framed itself as a champion of its users’ privacy rights aided by a new online privacy guide called “A Day in the Life of Your Data” that breaks down common ad tracking and targeting practices. The guide outlines how the industry works to amass user data, which contributes to a $227 billion-a-year industry.
The launch of Apple’s new software update comes on the same day that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, criticized Apple for its business strategy.
“Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own. This impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world, including with the upcoming iOS 14 changes… Apple may say they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitor interests,” Zuckerberg said.
When the feature was initially announced in August, Apple released a statement on its website assuring users that the company holds their privacy in the highest regard.
“Apps on the App Store are held to a high standard for privacy, security, and content because nothing is more important than maintaining users’ trust. Later this year, you’ll be required to provide information about some of your app’s data collection practices on your product page. And with iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, you will need to ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies,” Apple said on its website.