Apple’s New Privacy Rules – Privacy is Fundamental Human Rights

Apple Announces Great Privacy Protections. Apple Limits Control over Personal Data.

  • Users will have to “opt-in” to allowing websites to track their browsing behavior on Safari, including sites with a “share” button usually provided by companies like Facebook or Google.
  • Apple will also limit “fingerprinting,” or the ability companies to follow specific device activity.
  • There will also be higher level protections against outside companies accessing information on a users’ contacts, photos, calendars, and reminders.
Apple's New Privacy Rules - Privacy is Fundamental Human Rights
Apple’s New Privacy Rules – Privacy is Fundamental Human Rights

Apple is introducing more controls to allow Safari users to control who gets their personal information online, including limiting data tracking across websites, the company announced on Monday at Apple’s annual conference for software developers, WWDC.

The move helps Apple respond to increasing user concerns about privacy online but could make it harder for websites and advertisers to target ads efficiently.

One advertising agency executive told CNBC Apple’s new limits on tracking put Facebook and Google in a “precarious place” because it would block their ability to follow users across the web as well as attribute how many individual users were clicking on links or what kinds of people were looking at ads.

One of the main updates asks users to opt-in to allow websites to track their browsing behavior on Safari, including sites with a “share” button or comments section provided by companies like Facebook or Google.

To demo the new feature, Federighi showed how Safari showed a pop-up notice asking a user to allow Facebook to have access to cookie and website data before they were allowed to comment on a website. Though the website was not run by Facebook, its comments section allowed people to use Facebook Login to post their thoughts.

Apple's New Privacy Rules - Privacy is Fundamental Human Rights

In most cases, users previously had to opt-out if they did not want to be tracked like this.

Apple will also limit “fingerprinting,” or the ability for companies to pinpoint precisely which device is visiting a website. That will make it “dramatically more difficult” for data companies to collect user information, Federighi explained, but could also make it harder for websites advertisers to measure how many people saw a particular piece of content.

Other protections include adding higher level protections against outside companies accessing information on a user’s contacts, photos, calendars, and reminders.

“There can be a lot of sensitive data on your devices, and we think you should be in control of who sees it,” Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said.

“We believe your private data should remain private,” Federighi said.

The changes will have the most dramatic effect on mobile usage and tracking. Safari is the second most popular web browser with about a quarter of U.S. internet users using the browser on mobile and desktop according to the federal government’s Digital Analytics Program. It is also the default web browser on Apple’s massively popular iPhone. The company sold 52 million iPhones in the quarter ended March 31.

Apple found itself embroiled in privacy issues after a New York Times report alleged Facebook shared its user data with Apple and other device makers without explicit consent. Facebook made deals with these companies to allow them access to user account information and activities. In exchange, the device makers included its Messenger, “like” buttons and other Facebook features in their products.

While Facebook blocked developers from accessing friends’ user information in 2015, it did not stop hardware companies from receiving the information. Facebook defended the decision, saying the contracts with device makers only gave limited use of user information for different versions “the Facebook experience” as opposed to third-party applications.

Apple is taking active steps to block Facebook’s data collection practices.

The Safari-maker said Monday that it will give users the ability to stop Facebook, Google and other platforms from tracking them across the web through “like” and “share” buttons.

The announcement is Apple’s most significant counter yet to Facebook’s data collection practices and comes after years in which Apple executives have criticized Facebook as reckless with user privacy.

“We’ve all seen these like buttons and share buttons,” Apple software VP Craig Federighi said at the company’s annual developer conference. “Well it turns out, these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not. So this year, we’re shutting that down.”

Apple's New Privacy Rules - Privacy is Fundamental Human RightsWhen Safari users arrive at a page with a Facebook like, a pop-up window will appear that asks: “Do you want to allow ‘’ to use cookies and website data while browsing [this site]? This will allow ‘’ to track your activity.”

Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos immediately took issue with the move, questioning on Twitter whether it was a serious effort to protect privacy or “just cute virtue signaling.”

Apple has put a premium on user privacy for years. In 2010, then-CEO Steve Jobs said Apple had “always had a very different view of privacy than some of our colleagues in the Valley.”

“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English and repeatedly,” Jobs said. “I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. … Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.”

Current Apple CEO Tim Cook has returned to this theme in recent months as Facebook has come under fire for its collection of a huge amount of user data and its failure to protect that data from abuse by third parties — most notably Cambridge Analytica.

In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall on Monday, Cook said, “I think that the privacy thing has gotten totally out of control and I think most people are not aware of who is tracking them, how much they’re being tracked and the large amounts of detailed data that are out there about them … We think privacy is a fundamental human right.”

Facebook has made itself vulnerable to Apple’s criticism. Less than 24 hours before Apple’s conference, the New York Times reported that Facebook’s data-sharing partnerships with device makers, including Apple, were still in effect despite Facebook’s claim that they’d cut off such data sharing in 2015.

Meanwhile, Apple has seized the opportunity to cast itself as the best-behaved player in tech. In addition to the new privacy measures, Apple also introduced new features that will encourage users to limit the amount of time they spend on their phones.

“[Apps] try to draw us in for fear of missing out,” Federighi said. “We may not even recognize how distracted we’ve become.”


Azad Hind News

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