Apple is cracking down on what it allows other companies to know about you. The company announced on Monday that iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur will feature a host of improved privacy features that will give users better control over their data and knowledge over what apps and websites know about them. This is great for users who don’t like the idea of, say, a period tracker app sending their data to a company they’ve never heard of. It’s bad news for that company they’ve never heard of.
Over on iOS, the mobile operating system that powers iPhones, apps will now have to get your permission before they can track your data, which is used to target ads to you based on that behavior. Apps often come loaded with secret trackers that send data, such as your location, device type, or usage time, to big companies like Facebook or Google or to the lesser-known brokers like Unacast or Cuebiq. These companies usually have their trackers in several, even thousands, of apps, allowing them to track your data across all of them. Your identity is typically anonymized and hidden behind a unique advertising identifier assigned to your phone. Privacy experts, however, will tell you that nothing is truly anonymous, and we’ve seen how it’s possible to re-identify someone.
If nothing else, Apple is making users more aware of the security issues surrounding web browsing. What the user does with that information is up to them.