Apple commits to iOS 14 privacy updates in letter to digital and human rights organization

Apple’s Senior Director Global Privacy, Jane C. Horvath wrote a letter to Dr. Jan Rydzak of Ranking Digital Rights organization over new iOS 14 privacy updates. Horvath reiterated Apple’s commitment to users’ privacy and explained that the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) features’ release is delayed till 2021 to give developers the time they needed “to update their systems and data practices”.

Apple’s letter is in response to an open letter to the company’s CEO Tim Cook by a group of eight civil and human rights organizations expressing concerns over the company’s delay in the release of new App Tracking Features in iOS 14.

In June at the WWDC 2020 event, Apple launched the latest iOS 14 with new privacy features to give uses more control and transparency over their data usage. In particular, the iPhone maker introduced the new ‘Ask for Permission‘ feature which restricts apps’ from tracking users’ digital footprints across other apps and websites. Without users’ consent, the app will not be able to track users to collect data for targeted ads. In addition, users will also have the option to not allow tracking altogether.

Apple Commits to iOS 14 Privacy Updates

Immediately after launch, digital targetted ads marketers like Facebook, Google strongly criticized Apple for jeopardizing their entire business model by allowing users to opt-out of app tracking, and later, the company decided to postpone the release of the new ATT features until next year.

This decision led Human and Digital Rights Organizations to believe that the Cupertino tech giant is wavering away from its commitment to provide users their fundamental right to privacy in their open letter to Cook. Therefore, Horvath stated:

“Apple believes that privacy is a fundamental human right. We design our products from the ground up to protect user privacy and security as a first principle, governed by our four Privacy Pillars: Data Minimization, On-Device Processing, Transparency and Choice, and Security. Year after year, we have introduced industry-leading privacy features and technologies designed to help our users stay in full control of their data and to help them stay one step ahead of those who seek to maximize access to personal information for private gain. In addition to ATT, for instance, we are excited to be launching our new app privacy information section on the App Store next month. We’re proud of the way these features push the entire industry forward.”

Criticizing Facebook’s approach of collecting as much data as possible to develop and monetize detailed profiles of its users, Jane explained:

“Advertising that respects privacy is not only possible, it was the standard until the growth of the Internet. Some companies that would prefer ATT is never implemented have said that this policy uniquely burdens small businesses by restricting advertising options, but in fact, the current data arms race primarily benefits big businesses with big data sets. Privacy-focused ad networks were the universal standard in advertising before the practice of unfettered data collection began over the last decade or so. Our hope is that increasing user demands for privacy and security, as well as changes like ATT, will make these privacy-forward advertising standards robust once more.”

Read the complete letter here.

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