Apple announced it will start enforcing a new privacy notification rule that digital advertising firms such as Facebook have warned will hurt their profits.
According to a Reuters report, the notices will be mandatory when its iOS 14.5 operating system becomes available. The notices will require an app developer to ask a user's permission before the app can track activity across companies' apps and websites.
Digital advertising firms have said the notices could cause users to decline permission, thus hurting sales. Apple, however, has said it is providing a way for advertisers running app installation ads to see how many people have installed an app after the ad campaign without divulging information on individual users, Reuters reports. Another tool, private-click management, could allow advertisers to measure when a user clicks an ad inside an app and is taken to a web page, but without revealing personal user data.
iOS 14.5 puts additional focus on user privacy, giving users better visibility into their personal information that is shared with third parties, says Chris Hazelton, Director of Security Solutions at Lookout, a San Francisco, Calif.-based provider of mobile security solutions. With this new update, users will be able to decide on an app-by-app basis which will have access to personal data, making it easier than ever for users to understand exactly how third-parties user their personal data, whether it's used for tracking, or if their financial information will be linked to other accounts, devices or identities, Hazelton says. "It will make it easier for users to question whether free services from developers are worth the cost in terms of privacy and security of their own data," he explains.
According to Hazelton, "The latest privacy changes are part of an unstoppable trend to increase the protection of user privacy. This trend will not stop with tracking for advertisers. Security vendors are limited in accessing user and system information, and must operate like any other app. Fighting this trend is like fight the ocean tides…you can't. You have to adapt to the trend, innovate or die. Mobile security providers innovated when they couldn't have kernel access and I am sure advertisers will find a way to innovate as well."
Tim Wade, Technical Director, CTO Team at Vectra, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of technology which applies AI to detect and hunt for cyber attackers, explains he tends to view Apple as a leader in this space with respect to communicating their priority on the importance of privacy.
"We should be grateful in so much as this translates into actual protections for individuals," Wade says. "Improving protections and transparency into data shared by end-users with providers and carriers allows individuals to make informed trade-offs with respect to what is increasingly becoming a centrally important cultural and social lightning rod – the implications of data, privacy, choice, and fairness in a world whose digital and physical dimensions are colliding. I hope the leadership Apple shows here translates down into the market, such that privacy isn’t merely something reserved for the affluent."