As a privacy measure, Apple will require iPhone and iPad app developers to ask users for permission to track their activity across other apps and websites for personal advertising purposes from the beginning of next year.
Prior to that, the request that users allow or deny tracking has begun to appear in the first beta of iOS 14.4, which was grafted in last week. A screenshot shared in the MacRumors forums shows the NBA app asking to track a user’s activity, with the customized lowercase letter indicating that the data will be used to provide users with a “better and more personalized ad experience.”
iOS 14.4 should be released in January or February, and that’s in line with Apple’s “early next year” time frame for this change. Apple originally planned to introduce promptly in September, but it delayed giving developers more time to prepare.
Last week, Facebook claimed that Apple’s new claims would hurt small businesses, adding that the move “is more about profit than privacy.” In a full-page newspaper ad, Facebook said Apple’s move will force small businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, which in turn benefits Apple’s bottom line.
“They are hurting small businesses and publishers who are already struggling in a pandemic,” Facebook said in a blog post. “These changes will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets effectively and efficiently.”
In response to Facebook, Apple expressed that users deserve control and transparency. “We believe this is a simple matter of standing up for our users,” Apple said, adding that “users need to know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and sites – and they need to have the choice of to allow it or not. “
Earlier this week, the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called Facebook’s campaign against Apple “ridiculous” and applauded Apple for its “pro-privacy” change.
“When a company does the right thing for its users, the EFF will stand by it, just as we will come down hard on companies that do the wrong thing,” the EFF said. “Apple is right here, and Facebook is wrong.”
Update: The tracking prompt is also starting to appear in some apps on earlier versions of iOS 14 as well, but rather inconsistently.