Apple quietly loosens privacy policy to allow user data collection for targeted advertising

Apple is allowing app developers to collect data for targeted advertising from Apple device users, in an unacknowledged shift that lets advertisers follow a much looser interpretation of its App Tracking Transparency so-called “privacy” framework.

Apple's App Tracking Transparency

Patrick McGee for Financial Times:

In May Apple communicated its privacy changes to the wider public, launching an advert that featured a harassed man whose daily activities were closely monitored by an ever-growing group of strangers. When his iPhone prompted him to “Ask App Not to Track”, he clicked it and they vanished. Apple’s message to potential customers was clear — if you choose an iPhone, you are choosing privacy.

But seven months later, companies including Snap and Facebook have been allowed to keep sharing user-level signals from iPhones, as long as that data is anonymised and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.

For instance Snap has told investors that it plans to share data from its 306m users — including those who ask Snap “not to track” — so advertisers can gain “a more complete, real-time view” on how ad campaigns are working. Any personally identifiable data will first be obfuscated and aggregated.

Cory Munchbach, chief operating officer at customer data platform BlueConic, said Apple had to stand back from a strict reading of its rules because the disruption to the mobile ads ecosystem would be too great. “Apple can’t put themselves in a situation where they are basically gutting their top-performing apps from a user-consumption perspective,” she said. “That would ultimately hurt iOS.”

Lockdown Privacy, an app that blocks ad trackers, has called Apple’s policy “functionally useless in stopping third-party tracking”. It performed a variety of tests on top apps and observed that personal data and device information is still “being sent to trackers in almost all cases”.

Companies will pledge that they only look at user-level data once it has been anonymised, but without access to the data or algorithms working behind the scenes, users won’t really know if their data privacy has been preserved, said Munchbach. “If historical precedent in adtech holds, those black boxes hide a lot of sins,” she said.

MacDailyNews Take: In a nutshell, it’s likely that what we have here is PINO (Privacy In Name Only).

Apple’s public-facing “User Privacy and Data Use” requirements are here.

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  1. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Tim Cook will say one thing (to make himself and/or Apple look good) and then do whatever it takes to not disrupt the revenue stream (pay off China with $275B, install backdoors into iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc., sell out users, etc.).

    Tim Cook gave $1 million of Apple shareholders’ money – not his own, the shareholders’ – to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate-based leftist scam, a defamatory machine.

    Apple-backed Southern Poverty Law Center wracked in turmoil, called a ‘con’ for ‘bilking gullible liberals’

    Tim Cook is a garbage human.

    1. I think it’s becoming more apparent everyday that businesses, govts and certain people are showing that the individual’s once-heralded sovereignty has seen its best days.

      Being scored, monitored, (as if guilty before trial) and simply being a organism for profit is the water being heated on the frog…soon to boil.

      PS: Tony suggests that Christmas visitors should show, or possibly be required to show proof of vaccination.

      1. There is hope. Not everyone backs authoritarianism:

        Republicans in the Senate are expected to win a vote — as soon as Wednesday — to overturn President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees.

        Two Democrats — Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — have said they back the GOP effort, which is being led by Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, and it needs just a simple majority of 51 votes to be approved by the chamber.

        While it likely won’t become law since its chances of passing the House are uncertain and Biden is certain to veto it, the effort demonstrates the bipartisan opposition in Congress to the federal government’s vaccine mandate on large employers.

        A federal appeals court last month temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine rules, which had been planned to take effect on January 4. The multiple lawsuits against the mandate have since been consolidated and reassigned to a federal appeals court in Ohio, with many expecting the case to end up before the US Supreme Court.

        Senate Republicans last month filed their challenge to Biden’s mandate under the Congressional Review Act, a legislative tool that allows Congress to roll back an executive branch rule.

        Braun and other Senate Republicans have argued that the vaccine mandate is an overstep of authority by the federal government and puts further strain on already struggling businesses, while also insisting that vaccines are a personal choice.

  2. Can we Trust anything Tim Cook says? As with Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, etc, it can’t rightly be called privacy if the company themselves are still hoarding and selling all of your data. We have reached a tipping point with online anonymity. methinks. If you are online, you are exposed, period, and should probably conduct yourself as though you are exposed. Tim Berners Lee’s vision of a world wide web was a joke.

  3. Just stop using social media.
    I’ve never sent a tweet, used Instagram, snap, TikTok, closed my Facebook account. Never use Google search or maps. You get the idea.
    Yeah it sucks that Timmy is not telling us the full story. I’m still going to buy Apple products of the others for my needs.

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