Privacy has lost many integers since the internet exists. In just over three decades, countless systems have proliferated online to obtain data from around the world without us realizing it.
On many occasions, we realize that there are apps and websites that, by offering us advertising, seem to be so up to date with our daily lives, that it is disturbing.
In this context, Apple released an update to its operating system for the iPhone, iOS 14.5 – and for the iPad, iPadOS 14.5 – that turns some things around. From now on, if an app wants to track the behavior of a user on the internet and share their data, it must first ask for permission.
Apple’s action is equivalent to crossing a Rubicon, a line of no return beyond which fate seems to be cast in a confrontation with Facebook over privacy that has been accentuated in recent months.
Now, iPhone and iPad users who install this new version of the operating system will no longer be tracked by apps.
In order for the applications to be able to access the advertising identifier of your mobile, you must first activate in the phone settings the option that the applications ask for permission, regardless of whether or not they are later granted.
This initiative has been dubbed ATT (Application Tracking Transparency) and may represent a torpedo on the waterline of the social network’s business model.
Each iPhone has its own unique number called IDFA (identifier for advertisers). Until now, every time a user opened an app on an Apple phone (Android phones also carry an identifier), the application could obtain that number and then, for example, ask Facebook to send ads to that user, about which the social network already had a good number of references over time that allow it to know many things about each person.
In the same way, if Facebook has the identifier and other updated data, such as the geographical position or a history of products that interest the user, it can “see” if the person is in a store, a park or any other space or a Internet browsing circumstances that could be of interest to an advertiser.
The social network does this with all mobile phones. From now on, you can only do it on iPhones whose owners authorize it.
The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is in love with Apple, although in reality the company led by Tim Cook has not blocked the tracking. It only demands that the user’s permission do so. Until now, no one asked for permission to track us on the internet.
Facebook sent several advertisers a memorandum last Wednesday explaining that from now on they will lose the ability to target an ad with expectations of click conversion among iPhone users with the updated operating system.
Tracking blocking prevents the social network from using web analytics and advertising tools and it will no longer be able to offer to its customers.
Advertisers will no longer be able to push mobile app install campaigns for iOS 14.5 users as a target audience. Ultimately, these changes will apply to all iPhone users.
Facebook alleges that Apple’s move will prevent people from discovering products and services based on personalization and that it will harm small businesses that base their business on reaching customers through online advertising campaigns.
Although this is not the case everywhere, the Apple phone is majority in certain countries, such as the United States, where, for example, nine out of ten teenagers use a mobile from this brand.
Late last year, Facebook ran full-page ads in the paper editions of major US newspapers, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, stating that Apple’s ATT will have “devastating effects” on small businesses because “it will limit the ability of businesses to launch personalized ads and reach their customers”.
“Apple controls an entire ecosystem,” he added, “from the device to the application and application store, and uses this power to harm developers and consumers, as well as large platforms such as Facebook.” The social network has studied taking the case to court.
Apple’s decision is firm. Last January, the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, spoke at the European conference Computers, Privacy & Data Protection and presented his vision contrary to the business models on the internet that are based on engagement rate and not privacy.
In direct allusion to Facebook, although without mentioning it, he pointed out that they lead to polarization and violence.
He stated that we are facing
“an interconnected ecosystem of companies and data brokers, providers of fake news, division drivers, trackers and interested in making easy money with more presence than ever in our lives.“
The positions are very well defined and the consequences of each movement, are unpredictable, open a fascinating battle that may mark the concept of privacy on the Internet in the future.
In the coming months we could have news in its robust messaging app, iMessage, which is the most used in the United States.
If Apple introduces new, private and secure ways to share data, photos, and videos with family and friends, it may undermine Facebook’s power in such communications and ultimately deprive it of the data on which it bases its business model.
The contest promises to go much further. It has no turning back.