As a privacy measure, Apple will be requiring developers of iPhone and iPad apps to request permission from users to track their activity across other apps and websites for personalized advertising purposes starting early next year.
Ahead of time, the prompt for users to allow or deny tracking has started to show up in the first beta of iOS 14.4, seeded last week. A screenshot shared in the MacRumors forums shows the NBA app requesting to track a user’s activity, with the customizable fine print indicating that the data will be used to provide users “a better and personalized ad experience.”
iOS 14.4 should be publicly released in January or February, lining up with Apple’s timeframe of “early next year” for this change. Apple originally planned to introduce the prompt in September, but it delayed to provide developers with more time to prepare.
Last week, Facebook claimed that Apple’s new requirement will hurt small businesses, adding that the move is “more about profit than privacy.” In a full-page newspaper ad, Facebook said that Apple’s move will force small businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, in turn benefitting Apple’s bottom line.
“They’re hurting small businesses and publishers who are already struggling in a pandemic,” said Facebook, in a blog post. “These changes will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively.”
In response to Facebook, Apple expressed that users deserve control and transparency. “We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users,” said Apple, adding that “users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not.”
Earlier this week, the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called Facebook’s campaign against Apple “laughable” and applauded Apple for its “pro-privacy” change.
“When a company does the right thing for its users, EFF will stand with it, just as we will come down hard on companies that do the wrong thing,” the EFF said. “Here, Apple is right and Facebook is wrong.”
Update: The tracking prompt is also starting to appear in certain apps on previous versions of iOS 14 as well, but rather inconsistently.