Home / Apple / Facebook complains, Apple responds: iOS 14’s major privacy change is delayed

Facebook complains, Apple responds: iOS 14’s major privacy change is delayed

IPhone 8, iPhone XS, iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max.
Enlarge / From left to right: iPhone 8, iPhone XS, iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max.

Samuel Axon

Apple has postponed full enforcement of a feature of the upcoming iOS 1

4 software for iPhones that will require app developers to ask users’ permission to track them across apps for advertising purposes. This announcement comes in the wake of a public complaint from Facebook that the privacy policy may adversely affect the advertising market in Apple’s ecosystem.

The feature, announced at Apple’s annual developer conference in June, would require app developers to notify a user of an app’s intention to track the user’s IDFA (Advertiser ID). IDFA is used to track user behavior across multiple apps and deliver targeted ads based on that behavior. The change will also require the user to choose to track.

Apple now says that although developers will be able to implement this alert and ask for permission, it will no longer be mandatory when iOS 14 launches sometime within the next few months. However, Apple was careful to point out that they still intend to establish the requirement in the future, and that this is only a delay “to give developers time to make necessary changes.”

Here is Apple’s statement on the matter, which was published on the developer portal today:

In addition, on iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, apps must receive user permissions to track users across apps or websites owned by other companies, or to access the device’s advertising identifier. We are committed to ensuring that users can choose whether or not to let an app track them. To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps must be allowed to track users from the beginning of next year. More information, including an update to the App Store Review Policy, is due this fall.

The delay comes in the wake of a public ploy by Facebook to bring app developers and marketers against Apple due to the planned change, as the change will initially threaten the viability of Facebook’s business model on iOS. Social media companies published a public memo warning that Apple’s new policy would not only threaten marketers ‘and advertisers’ opportunities on the iPhone (including Facebook itself), but it would question whether Facebook would continue to support its Audience Network program (which uses IDFA and is one of Facebook’s main services for app developers and advertisers) on the platform.

The argument was that users, given the choice, would generally opt out, and greatly weakened the strength of the advertiser network.

Apple has not said when they will adopt the requirements they originally announced, but only that there has been a delay and that more information will come this fall. In addition, Apple used the same post on the developer portal today to announce more details about plans to have a nutrition label-like privacy information page for each app in the App Store.

Here is the statement:

At Apple, we believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. As announced at WWDC20, the App Store product pages will include new privacy information to help users understand an app’s privacy practices. Today we publish more details for developers about what will be covered in this new privacy section. By the end of next month, you will be able to send your information via the App Store Connect to prepare for this feature to be launched to users by the end of the year.

As of today, developers can go through new support documentation on what must be revealed and how they must be revealed on a special page in the developer portal.

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