Some of the biggest news to come out of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) yesterday is about consumer privacy.
Apple has announced that it is putting control of personal data tracking in the hands of users. The company is giving consumers the option to opt-out of tracking in each app, essentially turning off IDFA. The IDFA is a unique ID that lets advertisers track the actions users take when they use apps. Think of it like a salesperson that follows you from store to store while you shop, recording every item you look at.
By providing the option to turn off IDFA at the point of use, Apple is giving millions of consumers more privacy online. Apple is also making a loud statement: mass data collection and invasive advertising don’t have to be the status quo online. Apple is saying that consumer privacy should be a significant factor in the online advertising equation — a refreshing take.
Apple’s decision follows several months of campaigning by Mozilla. In April 2019, Mozilla noted the IDFA was incompatible with Apple’s “Privacy. That’s iPhone” marketing campaign. Mozilla called on Apple to rotate users’ IDFAs each month, and some 20,000 internet users signed our petition. Then, in November, a Mozilla-Ipsos poll revealed that half of iPhone users weren’t even aware that the IDFA existed. Further, consumers who did know it existed still did not know how to reset it. Now, with the option to opt-out of tracking baked-in to the point-of-use, consumers won’t have to sift through their phone’s settings to turn off IDFA and protect their privacy.
Last week, Zoom decided to make end-to-end encryption free for all users. I wrote that individual, pro-privacy decisions by tech companies can add up to industry-wide change. Apple’s IDFA decision adds more momentum to that change — an internet where consumers have more agency when it comes to privacy.