Apple releases long-awaited software update to curb tracking


Apple is giving millions of iPhone users a choice: Allow Facebook and other apps running on Apple’s iOS platform to track your activity on your phone and online, or stop tracking altogether.



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What will you choose?

Apple’s new iPhone software, iOS 14.5, will be available starting next week, the company announced Tuesday. The update includes a major privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency, which requires apps to request permission before gathering user or device data. Specifically, the update changes the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a unique, random number assigned to each iPhone that allows advertisers and developers to track user behavior, including app usage and web browsing behavior. The IDFA is often used to personalize advertisements.

Apple holding “Spring Loaded” release event

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Apple is also releasing software updates for its other devices, including the iPad, Apple Watch, Mac computers and Apple TV. Apple is hosting an event on Tuesday where the company will announce product updates, and the software is expected to be available this week.

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A spokesperson for Apple said the new privacy features were developed to “provide transparency and give users a choice if their data is tracked.” Apple requires all developers to adhere to the new policies, but will not require software makers to make the update immediately. 

Why Facebook objects

Facebook, Google and other big tech firms are unhappy with the changes.

In December, Facebook placed a full-page ad in the New York Times that claimed the user-tracking changes in iOS 14.5 would adversely affect small businesses. “[T]he average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend,” the Facebook ad stated.

A spokesman for Facebook was unable to verify the claim of a 60% loss to small business, but shared a Facebook blog post and video that asserts the Apple update will force…

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