Apple hits back at Facebook’s ad campaign attacking upcoming ATT privacy feature on iOS 14

Apple has given a fitting response to Facebook’s ad campaign targeting an upcoming privacy feature on iOS 14, App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update. Accusing Apple of undermining small businesses by restricting app tracking across apps and websites on iPhone to run targeted ads, Facebook quoted that 60% of small businesses using its platform will suffer because of the upcoming ATT update.

Apple has released a detailed official statement on the matter, explaining the importance of users’ privacy and highlighting the invasive nature of app tracking via IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers). The statement says:

“We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.”

Apple’s response to Facebook’s ad campaign against the company

In the official statement, Apple explains that app tracking is usually without users’ consent and knowledge. The invasive nature of app tracking can have detrimental outcomes for users if their personal information lands in the wrong hands. Therefore, the company is bringing more transparency to its platform in the new iOS 14 privacy updates.

Tracking can be invasive and as a result, Apple believes that tracking should be transparent to users and under their control. This year, Apple is announcing several new features designed to do that.

Starting in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, all apps will be required to obtain user consent for tracking, including apps users already have on their devices.

Apple clarified that it is not stopping app tracking but making it more transparent by obligating developers to seek users’ permission so that users have more control over their data collection by opting out via the Setting app on their iPhones.

We welcome in-app advertising and are not prohibiting tracking. We’re simply requiring each app to obtain explicit user consent in order to track so that it will be more transparent and under user control.

Developers will still be able to track users with the IDFA and other means so long as they gain user consent.

In iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, when a user declines to consent to tracking, Apple will not provide the IDFA and will relay the users choice to the developer. Developers are responsible for making sure they’re complying with the user’s choice.

The Cupertino tech giant says that the new ATT update will be for all developers/apps includes its own and the violating apps will be removed from the App Store.

Our new tracking control feature applies to all developers — including Apple. Throughout our products and services, Apple uses privacy-preserving techniques to protect our users. — We’re also expanding the SKAdNetwork privacy-preserving ad attribution API, so that third-party ad networks serving ads across a wide variety of apps can provide ad attribution to developers without knowing the identity of the user. SKAdNetwork is free to use — Apple doesn’t monetize this API.

If Apple becomes aware of an app that violates our strict App Review guidelines, the developer must address the issue or the app will be removed from the App Store.

The company has already tested a similar tracking feature on Safari, Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) which blocks third-party tracking and in the keynote of the 10th Annual European Data Protection & Privacy Conference, Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering, explained that ITP has encouraged advertisers to adapt and run ads through more successfully in a transparent manner and hopes to same for iOS app tracking with ATT privacy update.

Now, we’re taking the first step on taking on this challenge for apps in iOS, a project that is years in the making and has been part of our privacy roadmap for a long time.

We define tracking as the process of connecting information collected about you or your device on an app or website owned by one company with information collected separately by other companies for targeted advertisements, for advertising measurement, or via data brokers.

At the WWDC 2020 event, Apple announced the new iOS 14 privacy updates which were designed to give uses more control over their data and bring more transparency in apps tracking and after the release, the new privacy features created a buzz in the tech industry. Users discovered that many apps were invasively recording and storing their personal information and they were not happy. Reddit, Linkedin, Instagram, TikTok and other apps were caught spying on and copying users’ clipboard information.

However, Apple postponed the release of the ATT update was postponed till early 2021 because it wants to give time to developers to make required changes to their apps. And the delay has aroused Digital and Human Rights organizations’ suspicious which they have expressed in an open letter to CEO Tim Cook stating that app tracking violates users’ privacy and they have no choice to opt-out of it. Since then Apple has publically reiterated its commitment to protecting users’ privacy at every forum calling it the company’s core value and beneficial for advertisers and has categorically warned developers to follow app-tracking rules.

In support of the upcoming ATT privacy feature, Mozilla Foundation asks iPhone users to show their appreciation of the new update by sending a message of thanks to the company. Where do you stand on this matter, let us know in the comments.

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