Apple defends action against ‘pervasive’ ad tracking in Safari 11
Responding to ad industry accusations that it is inhibiting user choice, the company sticks by its privacy-first stance.
Apple’s move to let users prevent ad technology companies from tracking them across sites for ad targeting in Safari has rankled the ad industry. And Apple is just fine with that.
The company issued a statement after six major advertiser industry groups said they are “deeply concerned” about Apple’s cross-site tracking prevention and said its “unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love.”
Apple says that current tracking practices are “so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history” without users’ permission.
Users will be able to turn off cross-site tracking in the latest desktop and mobile versions of Safari coming out this fall. Dubbed Intelligent Tracking Prevention, Apple’s solution uses machine learning to determine whether a cookie can be used to track users across multiple sites for ad retargeting.
Apple reiterated that the new technology “does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that actually click on and visit,” adding that “ads placed by web publishers will appear as normally.”
Safari has long blocked third-party cookies in Safari, but Intelligent Tracking Prevention aims to shore up user privacy by preventing ad tech companies from circumventing that protocol by using redirects to drop first-party cookies, for example.
The full statement from Apple, first provided to The Loop:
Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private. The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit. Cookies for sites that you interact with function as designed, and ads placed by web publishers will appear normally.