Apple moving forward with plan to limit “creepy” user tracking

Enlarge / A man glowers at an iPhone, just as ad firms are worried iOS users will when they discover how they are being tracked and that they can opt out of it. (credit: Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images)

Apple’s plan to add a new privacy feature to iOS to limit “invasive, even creepy” tracking by third-party firms is nothing but an abuse of market power to stifle competition, Facebook—a third-party tracking firm extraordinaire—claims.

Apple in June announced that iOS 14 would make a change requiring app developers to notify users if their app collects a unique device code, known as an IDFA (ID for Advertisers), and require that collection to be an opt-in setting. After pushback from Facebook and other firms, however, Apple delayed implementation of the new policy and launched iOS 14 in September without enabling it. The company said instead the feature would be added “early next year” to give developers more time to update their apps accordingly.

Apple stands behind its plan to implement the new app tracking transparency (ATT) feature next year and plans to move forward with it, Jane Horvath, senior director of global privacy at Apple, said in a letter to eight civil, human, and digital rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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