'Ask App Not To Track'

Published April 30, 2021, 9:06 AM

by Professor Rom Feria

In 2010 D8 Conference, Steve Jobs was asked about privacy and here is what he said:

Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly. That’s what it means. I’m an optimist, I believe people are smart. And some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data. That’s what we think.

Apple’s iOS/iPadOS 14.5 come with the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature that does precisely that, but without doing it multiple times, ask users if they want the application that they are going to use to track them, hence waive their right to privacy. Apple is simply providing users a choice — yes, you, the user, will have a say whether you want a particular application to track. Let me repeat that — YOU, the user, is GIVEN A CHOICE.

Contrary to what Facebook is saying that this is about going against small businesses, or going against personalized advertisements, it is not about that at all. It is all about informing the user that they are going to be tracked, and allowing them to decide. Facebook DOES NOT want to inform users that they are getting tracked when they use applications that have Facebook’s trackers. Facebook DOES NOT want users to be given a choice! In other words, Facebook wants users to remain in the dark, not knowing how users’ data are being collected across the internet and outside of Facebook’s products and services. Facebook thinks users are dumb — yeah, Zuckerberg even said users are “dumb fucks”.

Giving users a choice

After you have upgraded to iOS/iPadOS 14.5, you need to check Settings-Privacy-Tracking and see if you can toggle “Allow Apps to Request to Track”. With this turned on, each app will ask you if you want to be tracked or to “Ask App Not to Track”. If you turn it off, applications will default to no tracking, and you will not be asked anymore.

Allow Apps to Request to Track setting

In addition to this, Apple has its own advertising that can be found on the App Store and Apple News (thinking where else Apple ads are found), and data that is collected based on your usage of the iPhone or iPad is used to personalize it. The data collected does not leave the device, but then again, it is still targeted advertising. Luckily, there is a setting for this, too, but not to turn off adverts (I still wish that Apple will allow us to kill those ads), but to turn off personalization. It is found on Settings-Apple Advertising and the toggle for Personalized Ads.

Personalized Ad settings for Apple Advertising

Personally, I have turned off both settings and when I select “View Ad Targeting Information”, it is empty.

Advertisements are not bad per se. Third-party ads are, because they collect your information and track you across the internet. Apple is providing users a choice on whether or not they want to be tracked. Apple is NOT deciding for users.

Tell Facebook to get off! Tell Facebook your are not dumb! Turn off tracking and protect your data, protect yourself.