Taking aim at Facebook & others: Apple says it is ‘shutting down’ tracking from Like & Share buttons and conversation platforms
Apple further entrenched its strategic positioning as privacy protector against the ad tech ecosystem at WWDC, its annual developer conference, on Monday. Apple is taking aim at Facebook’s Like buttons, Disqus comments widgets and other third-party APIs that can be used for data collection, tracking and ad targeting.
Last year, Apple shrugged at industry pushback that came after it launched Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in Safari 11 to disable pervasive ad retargeting in its browser.
During the livestreamed keynote Monday, Apple announced, “Like and share buttons and conversation windows — these can be used to track you whether you click on them or not. This year we are shutting that down.” With the launch of Safari 12, users will get a notification to choose whether share their data with third-party widgets like Facebook Like buttons, Disqus comments widgets and other plug-ins on a page.
Additionally, Apple is making fingerprinting — the ability for trackers to identify specific devices — much harder. In essence, “Your Mac will look like everyone else’s Mac,” said Apple. “It will be dramatically more difficult for data companies to uniquely identify your device and track you.”
If ever Apple wanted a “told you so” example of why it has been focused on efforts like ITP in the first place, Facebook has presented it on a silver platter. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been an outspoken critic of Facebook’s approach to data privacy and its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Apple isn’t the only entity throwing up its hands at the ad tech ecosystem’s attempts at self-regulation and taking action of its own. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), now in effect, is aimed at giving users, rather than internet ad businesses, control over their data.