Apple (AAPL) is once again promoting its privacy features in a new ad campaign that takes snapshots of everything from competing email services to nearly the entire Internet.
In a new announcement, launching on Wednesday, the iPhone maker highlights a range of ways online data brokers collect your information to target you with ads. This isn’t exactly a stunning advertisement. Consumers have been told for years that web browsers, social networks, and even their navigation apps collect data about them to sell ads.
But Apple’s goal is not to inform the public. Rather, it is a matter of aligning the broader tech industry as the kind of company that will champion the privacy of its users. Of course, this also angered companies like Facebook’s parent company Meta (FB), which said Apple’s transparency tracking technology (ATT) slams the social media company’s profits to reach $10 billion in 2022.
ATT allows users to choose whether or not their apps collect data about their usage. If you turn off data collection, your apps will only use a minimal amount of data to function.
In an Apple commercial, a woman named Ellie checks out a record store when she encounters a secret data auction. Real-world ad auctions are systems that companies use to place their ads on various websites at a certain cost.
While she was in the data auction, data brokers bought Eli’s drugstore purchases, location data, emails, late-night texting habits, and recent transactions.
To restore her privacy and keep her information from data brokers, Ellie turns on Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection and ATT Protection, which prevents marketing emails from knowing if you’ve opened them.
It also uses Apple’s Apps Privacy Report, which tells Ellie which apps are sending their data to third-party sites, and Safari’s Privacy Report to see which webpages are sending their data.
Genuine Apple Privacy Pieces. The company keeps the data from going to third parties. But that doesn’t mean the apps are still not able to collect your data. As long as they don’t dump your information and release it to third parties, developers can use your information to sell ads as they want. In other words, Facebook cannot track what you do across other apps and sites, but it can track what you do in the core Facebook app.
Apple’s stance on privacy has alarmed companies like Meta, Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and YouTube. Both companies have seen significant success in ad revenue, with Apple’s ATT making it difficult for advertisers to determine how well their campaigns are performing among potential consumers.
Google’s Android has also jumped onto the privacy bandwagon, announcing new features for the upcoming Android 13 that allow users to limit the type of content apps that can be accessed from a users’ device. But Apple’s ATT still goes further by making it difficult for third parties to access user data at all.
However, Apple is not without its own big controversies. The tech giant is in the midst of a global battle over potential regulations that could force it to change its App Store policies around the world, opening up the platform to allow developers to accept consumer payments, potentially affecting Apple’s powerful App Store business.
Politico reported late last year that the Department of Justice is also moving forward with an antitrust investigation into the company’s app store practices.
Despite its current and potential future legal problems, Apple has clearly distinguished itself from the rest of the tech industry — at least in terms of data collection. And for a number of consumers, that’s all it takes to become a lifelong Apple user.
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