Apple is not holding back on its privacy stance. In a letter sent to a coalition who voiced concern over new privacy features, Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath says Apple remains committed to new privacy features in iOS 14, and at the same time calls out Facebook.
Apple introduced a new feature in iOS 14 that requires apps to ask for a user’s permission before tracking them across other app and websites. Once announced Facebook and others criticized the feature, officially called “App Tracking Transparency” as being hurtful to its business model and the ad industry. In response to the pressure, Apple delayed the launch of the feature until sometime later next year.
Despite the delay, companies are still unhappy with the feature, but today Apple reaffirmed its plans to launch the feature early next year. In the letter, Horvath confirms Apple’s intent of delaying the roll out as a chance for developers and companies to find other means of ad-tracking and personalization in ways that would not be impacted by ATT, as the letter reads.
We delayed the release of ATT to early next year to give developers the time they indicated they needed to properly update their systems and data practices, but we remain fully
committed to ATT and to our expansive approach to privacy protections. We developed
ATT for a single reason: because we share your concerns about users being tracked
without their consent and the bundling and reselling of data by advertising networks and
Apple makes clear in the letter that privacy and giving users control over it has always been at the forefront of what it does, touting Safari’s feature of blocking 3rd party cookies since at least 2005, and the introduction of Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature introduced in Safari on macOS High Sierra and iOS 11. Apple says it wants to take those same ideas and values, and implement them into App Store apps which customers use every day.
Now, we want to bring this same user-focused, privacy-forward approach to the apps
customers use every day. ATT doesn’t ban the reasonable collection of user data for app
functionality or even for advertising. Just as with the other data-access permissions we
have added over many software releases, developers will be able to explain why they
want to track users both before the ATT prompt is shown and in the prompt itself. At that
point, users will have the freedom to make their own choice about whether to proceed.
This privacy innovation empowers consumers — not Apple — by simply making it clear
what their options are, and giving them the information and power to choose
In perhaps the most striking statement in the letter, Apple directly calls out Facebook for wanting to “collect as much information” as possible” and to monetize off of that data, disregarding user privacy.
By contrast, Facebook and others have a very different approach to targeting. Not only do
they allow the grouping of users into smaller segments, they use detailed data about
online browsing activity to target ads. Facebook executives have made clear their intent is
to collect as much data as possible across both first and third party products to develop
and monetize detailed profiles of their users, and this disregard for user privacy continues
to expand to include more of their products
You can read the full letter here.