Apple’s New Privacy Features Will Improve Transparency and Empower Users
Devrun is excited about Apple’s new privacy features, which will be soon implemented in the upcoming release of iOS 14, tvOS 14, and iPadOS 14. We believe this will begin a new trend in the digital analytics industry. Therefore, developers will be persuaded to follow their footprints and practice healthier data tracking policies that respect their data privacy.
Honoring this day, Apple has published a report, “A Day in the Life of Your Data,” which illustrates a scenario of how companies carry out data tracking across apps and websites. It aims to make people understand how third-party advertisers are exploiting their data privacy without even knowing. In response to the issue, Apple has introduced new privacy features to minimize data tracking.
“I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data,” said Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple Inc. It was his statement on the ‘All Things Digital Conference’ held in 2010. Hence, we can see that Apple has been concerned about user’s data privacy much longer than others.
In the last ten years, the data analytics industry has become way bigger yet more opaque to the average user. Every day, tons of personal data are collected through data tracking. Your data could be somewhere in there, being aggregated, shared, and monetized, disregarding your data privacy. Therefore, users must increase their knowledge of the privacy features of the services they use.
Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple, said, “Privacy means peace of mind, it means security, and it means you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own data.” He also added, “Our goal is to create technology that keeps people’s information safe and protected. We believe privacy is a fundamental human right, and our teams work every day to embed it in everything we make.”
Apple is surely putting effort to live up to its promises. The “A Day in the Life of Your Data” report has shed light on many data privacy issues that have become common in user data tracking. You would be surprised to know that majority of modern smartphone apps have six trackers on average. Developers often use third-party codes to build the apps, which will mostly contain data tracking scripts. It allows them to collect and link your personal data with other data obtained from different apps across your device.
Some apps will request access for data tracking things that aren’t even required for their service. These data are regularly collected and sold by data brokers. Eventually, your data may end up to individuals or companies that you have no connection with. The report also stated that around 20% of children’s apps are data tracking and sharing personally identifiable information with others. It is not something a parent would appreciate.
The breach of data privacy is not only limited online. You can be tracked almost everywhere you go. Your visited places, photos, transactions, everything can be tracked. Social media companies are often involved in such extreme levels of data tracking, and there are many examples of them paying fines for violating user’s data privacy.
To overcome these issues, Apple has come up with some innovative privacy features for their upcoming releases. All of Apple’s services follows the following data privacy principles:
- Data Minimization: Apple encourages developers to minimize data tracking on their users and only focus on only collecting data required for service.
- On-Device Processing: Apple processes most of your data on the device without sending it to the Apple This way, data tracking by unwanted parties can be avoided.
- User Transparency and Control: Apple has some strict guidelines for apps. The user should be made aware of the type of data the app intends to collect or share. Moreover, the user can disallow or control the way data tracking is done.
- Security: Apple’s products have superior hardware and software support that provides maximum data privacy.
People from various privacy organizations have praised Apple’s effort to enhance user’s data privacy.
Gus Hosein from Privacy International (PI) said, “PI’s investigations into data brokers and ad tech companies reveal a complex, fast-growing industry that is opaque to the average user. Where there is a lack of transparency, exploitation thrives. Invisible and gratuitous data collection leaves users unable to exercise their rights and protect their privacy. Apple’s nutrition labels require industry to be clear and upfront with consumers, and tools like App Tracking Transparency will help people to assert control over the invisible leakage of their data. With these commendable innovations, industry will finally feel pressure to change. Consumer awareness and technical solutions are important parts of the solution, but in order to prevent a cat-and-mouse game between industry actors, we need substantive, enforceable regulation to stop this exploitation of our data.”
Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy said, “Apple’s new data privacy tools ensure that people have greater control over their personal information. Data brokers and online advertisers will now have to act more responsibly when dealing with consumers who use third party applications on Apple devices.”
Michelle Richardson from the Center for Democracy and Technology said, “Too often, consumers are unknowing participants in a web of data tracking and targeting. These changes will help rebalance the ecosystem so that data collection and sharing is more transparent and tracking is no longer the default. Systemic change of this breadth is a huge leap forward for consumers.”
Tristan Harris from the Center for Humane Technology said, “Today’s Apple announcement moves the ecosystem further away from the malicious effects of secretive profiling and microtargeting that enable many of the problems outlined in The Social Dilemma.”
To conclude, privacy is people’s fundamental right. And, proper knowledge of the industry practice of data tracking is crucial to secure your data privacy. Apple has introduced us to many technologies over the years that are aimed to safeguard user data.