IOS 14.5 has been available for download since this week. Anyone who installed the update will most likely have seen one or the other new pop-up. With this, apps ask whether they are allowed to access user activities. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON has found out for you what it is all about.
Many media are currently reporting that Apple will put an end to tracking. That is not completly correct. With iOS 14.5, iPhone users first have the option of restricting app tracking. So far, apps have been able to exchange data with one another without noticing anything. Now Apple is discovering this process and giving users control over it. Apps now have to ask whether they are allowed to use data from another app – and you can simply decline.
However, that doesn’t mean that apps can suddenly no longer track at all. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON explains why that is.
iOS 14.5 restricts app tracking
The update brings a new function to protect privacy: App Tracking Transparency, or ATT. Apple’s Senior Vice President Craig Federighi describes the function to the Wall Street Journal as follows: “ATT gives users the choice of whether they want to be tracked across apps and websites.”
iOS has long been assigning an Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) to every iPhone. This ID is unique and allows you to track user activity between apps. For example, if you search for a specific article in an app, it can happen that exactly this article appears as an advertisement in another app. One app forwards the information to the other via the IDFA.
In iOS 14.5, the IDFA is no longer passed on automatically. Instead, you can decide for yourself whether you want to allow an app to access it. For this purpose, a pop-up now appears when an app wants to access the IDFA. In it, the app developers have the opportunity to explain why they need the IDFA. Some apps show their own message beforehand, which explains what the data is for.
You can also deactivate this query from the start in the settings. This is possible under the path Settings> Data protection> Tracking with the option “Allow apps to request tracking”. On the same page you can also find the apps for which you have already made the decision. This makes it possible to approve or reject the tracking afterwards. In contrast to Internet sites that keep showing pop-ups asking for cookies, iOS only asks once for each app.
Apple cannot prevent all types of app tracking with iOS 14.5
Although apps can be forbidden from accessing the IDFA, they can still use so-called “fingerprinting” to create tracking IDs that are independent of the tracking in iOS. Fingerprinting works with individual user profiles that can be used to identify individuals across websites and apps.
The fact that Apple cannot prevent fingerprinting is somewhat lost in the German translation of the pop-up (“reject app tracking”). In English it is called “Ask App Not to Track”. This makes it clear that tracking cannot be completely turned off. The wording is cleverly chosen because Apple cannot guarantee one hundred percent that an app does not track.
Federighi says that no Apple-owned apps are currently showing the pop-up. This is because none of the apps pass data on to third parties.
Facebook is fighting against app tracking restriction in iOS 14.5
Facebook said in a statement to the New York Times: “Free, ad-supported services have been fundamental to the growth and vitality of the Internet. But Apple is trying to rewrite the rules to give itself an advantage and restrain others. ”The company also called Apple’s approach“ hypocritical ”and“ anti-competitive ”. Earlier this year there were reports that Facebook was working on an antitrust lawsuit.
The company is currently making use of the option to inform users about the use of their data before the pop-up appears. In a window, Facebook explains what it needs the user data for. In a post on its own blog , the company also writes: “Apple’s new request suggests that there is a conflict of interest between personalized advertising and data protection, while in reality we can and do both.”