iOS 14.5 is set to launch soon, with Apple‘s latest mobile operating system already on the seventh beta release. Now, we can confirm that the new update will come with a significant change with the App Tracking Transparency feature—which will basically allow users to opt out of ad-targeted tracking across the web. This is a practice that has worried privacy-conscious users for a long time now, and Apple’s latest move is a bid to offer more transparency for users.
On iOS 14.5, developers and apps will need to obtain user permission to track them (on other websites/apps), and this will cover Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) tracker. Any other form of tracking using identifiers will be stopped, as well, including data that has already been procured such as contact information. Developers will, in short, have to tell users when (and how) they want to track them—with information to be displayed on App Store privacy nutrition labels.
The privacy world, in response, appears to appreciate the update. According to Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy:
“Apple’s new data privacy tools ensure that people have greater control over their personal information. Data brokers and online advertisers will now have to act more responsibly when dealing with consumers who use third party applications on Apple devices.”
Michelle Richardson, Center for Democracy and Technology, had a similar sentiment:
“Too often, consumers are unknowing participants in a web of data tracking and targeting. These changes will help rebalance the ecosystem so that data collection and sharing is more transparent and tracking is no longer the default. Systemic change of this breadth is a huge leap forward for consumers.”
Meanwhile, the Cupertino-based firm has also released an update to its privacy-centric report, “A Day in the Life of your Data”, which is a guide that gives users a better understanding of how their data is tracked by third parties online. The updated report comes with some minor content changes, although there is now more information on how things like “Ad Auctions” work.
There is, of course, a new section that covers the App Tracking Transparency feature, as well as the privacy information section on the App Store. These, according to the report, are supposed to offer users “increased transparency, visibility, and choice so that they can make informed choices and exert greater control over their privacy”.
It all makes for some good reading, and if you have the time (and the desire to understand how your data is tracked online), you can read the updated full report here.