Data privacy is back in the news, and this time it’s Apple that’s stepping up to protect our data. They’re scheduled to roll out their new Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) this spring. IDFA is assigned by Apple to a user’s device, and it means that every app has to ask us upfront whether it’s okay to share our data with third parties. Note that this is Apple users only—not Android.
So what does this mean for you?
I’m not a big app user, and I don’t ever download games. However, I just took a look at my phone. I’ve got apps for my banks and some stocks, Uber, Lyft, the New Yorker and The NYTimes. For the subway in Buenos Aires from my trip there a few years ago. You get the idea–these apps add up. For our expanding app accumulations, we’ll now be able to decide whether/not we want anyone tracking our online behavior and using it to market products to us.
This is your chance to quash data tracking in all Apple apps
Why, after all, would we want anyone tracking our behavior to sell us more stuff? With the new IDFA, we’ll get a prompt asking for our consent to track us–known as app tracking transparency (ATT). These prompts that will be displayed in all iOS (Apple) apps are expected to see many users switching off data tracking altogether. If you’re doing online advertising, this could have serious consequences.
Digital advertisers are wary about the effects of this change
“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,” said Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi. “Our goal is to create technology that keeps people’s information safe and protected.”
Under settings dubbed the “Privacy Nutrition Label,” users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track their data and can either grant permission or deny it. App makers will have to honestly explain how they plan to use the data.
- When you use a new app, a notification will explain what the tracking will be used for, and then it will ask if you want to opt into tracking.
- You can toggle IDFA data sharing on an app-by-app basis.
- You can turn off app tracking altogether and no apps can ask you to be tracked.
Apple’s IDFA change has been highly controversial
Facebook actively opposed the change, arguing that it will negatively impact small businesses by driving up the cost and decreasing the effectiveness of their digital/PPC advertising. Apple is also contending with a group of Chinese companies that has banded together to launch an alternative data-tracking tool for their apps. These apps will essentially bypass IDFA, likely in violation of Apple’s terms. That could put Apple in a tough position on the broader rollout of the new prompt. Worth watching.