Apple Says New Privacy Control to Prevent iPhone Apps from Secretly Shadowing People


Apple says in the spring it will carry out a new privacy control to keep iPhone users from shadowing people anonymously. In order to help sell ads, the delay in its expected launch seeks to placate Facebook and other digital networks that rely on such data surveillance.

While Apple did not include a precise date, Thursday’s general timetable suggests that a long-awaited functionality known as App Monitoring Openness will be part of an upgrade to iPhone apps that is likely to come at the end of March or some stage in April.

Apple had recently said it would come out early this year after halting the expected September launch of the safeguard in the wake of a Facebook-led uproar. As part of Data Privacy Day, Apple released the latest update that CEO Tim Cook will pay tribute to during a speech at a technology conference in Europe on Thursday.

Apple has been holding out to allow more time for Facebook and other software vendors to react to a functionality that would enable iPhone users to monitor their express approval. Analysts expect this authorization to be refused by a large number of users until their consent is required. Currently, iPhone users are always monitored by applications that they select until they take the extra step of removing it by going through iPhone settings.

In a series of full-page advertisements in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other national publications, Facebook stepped up its assaults on Apple’s new privacy control last month. If they do not compile personal information to tailor advertising, the campaign indicated some free digital utilities would be hobbled. CEO Mark Zuckerberg doubted Apple’s reasons for the reforms on Wednesday, saying the iPhone manufacturer “has every incentive” to use its own smartphone network to interfere with competitors with its own chat service.

“Apple may say that they are doing this to help individuals, but their competitive interests are clearly tracked by the moves,” Zuckerberg said.

Google, which still relies on personal data to fuel the largest ad network on the internet, has not joined Facebook in its condemnation of the upcoming monitoring controls from Apple. Google benefits by being the iPhone’s default search engine, a coveted position for which Apple pays an estimated $9 billion to $12 billion annually for it.

But Google cautioned in a blog post on Wednesday that the latest controls from Apple would have a direct effect on the ad revenue created on its digital network from iPhones. Google said the latest requirement would affect a “handful” of its iPhone applications, but didn’t identify which ones.

Christophe Combette, community product manager for Google Advertising, wrote: “We remain committed to preserving a vibrant and open app ecosystem where people can access a wide range of ad-supported content with confidence that their privacy and choices are respected.”

In order to show how much apps should learn about their users in everyday life, Apple also published an 11-page article.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.