New privacy controls: Apple says impact will depend on how developers ask for permission

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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The user privacy chief of American iPhone maker Apple clarified that the impact of the company’s new privacy controls over digital advertising tracking is likely to depend greatly on how app developers implement the new pop-up notification.

Since April 26 Apple started enforcing a rule, introduced last year, requiring developers to use a full screen pop-up notification seeking permission to gather data that can be used to track users across third-party sites and apps.

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The pop-up notification which appears for Apple users asking permission for data tracking by apps

US-based social media mammoth Facebook has said the rules could harm its customers. Some mobile advertising analysts believe fewer than one in three users will opt-in, which could diminish the effectiveness and profitability of ad targeting.

Erik Neuenschwander, Apple’s user privacy chief, said that opt-in rates are likely to depend on how developers make their case to users before showing the prompt, and the language used in a space Apple reserves for developers to give a reason for seeking permission. In past years when Apple introduced new permission pop-ups for items like microphone access, the rates varied with whether users perceived value in granting permission, he said.

Erik Neuenschwander Image
Erik Neuenschwander
User Privacy Chief

“A lot of it is based on the case that the developer makes. What we have found through all the other permissions that have been coming into iOS over the years, is that (communication) is the major contribution the developer can make to making sure the user gets an informed choice. We’re in favor of advertising – we do some advertising ourselves. You won’t see Apple prompt to track because we design our applications and our systems such that they don’t track users. That’s the approach that we’re taking, but we still leave open the fact that others can take other approaches.”

Developers do not have to use the pop-up to show ads based on first-party data, such as what news stories a user has read in an app.

Facebook to be heavily impacted

Facebook faces up to a 7 percent decline in second quarter revenue if 80 percent of its users block the company from tracking them on iPhones. That amounts to nearly $2 billion based on Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings.

Facebook last year hit back against Apple’s plans, accusing it of hurting small businesses that rely on personalized ads and harming the free internet. It has warned investors that a significant number of iPhone users could reject being tracked, and hurt Facebook’s digital ad business.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has accused Apple of behaving anti-competitively, handicapping other developers to benefit its own app ecosystem. “Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” he said in January.

In response to Facebook’s accusations of anti-competitive behavior, Apple has said that “we believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users” and that people should have a choice of whether to allow their data to be collected and shared.

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