Apple has responded to criticisms over its upcoming App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and further criticised Facebook for its “disregard for user privacy.” In a letter to the Ranking Digital Rights organisation (via 9to5Mac), Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director of global privacy reiterated that the company believes that “privacy is a fundamental human right,” and the ATT feature is very much in the pipeline for next year. The response by the tech giant comes days after a coalition of eight civil and human rights organisation wrote an open letter to CEO Tim Cook, expressing “disappointment” over the delay on the full implementation of iOS 14’s anti-tracking features until early 2021. In June this year, Apple had announced that the iOS 14’s ATT feature would require apps to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalised ads.
However, the feature has faced severe criticism from marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook and Google, saying that Apple is using its dominant market position to set its own guidelines regarding data collection. Facebook has also reportedly met with advertising partners to discuss the impact of the ATT on market players. Apple, on the other hand, states, advertisement that respects privacy is not only possible but is also a fundamental right. “Some companies that would prefer ATT is never implemented have said that this policy uniquely burdens small businesses by restricting advertising options, but in fact, the current data arms race primarily benefits big businesses with big data sets,” the letter read.
Addressing criticism from Facebook, Apple says that it has a different approach “to targetting” in comparison to others. It further adds that Facebook not only allows the grouping of users into smaller segments but also uses online browsing information to push target ads. “Facebook executives have made clear their intent is to collect as much data as possible across both first and third party products to develop and monetise detailed profiles of their users, and this disregard for user privacy continues to expand to include more of their products.”
Lastly, Apple, in its letter to the Ranking Digital Rights organisation claimed that it delayed the rollout of the ATT feature in September to give developers more time to prepare for the changes. The company is yet to share more details over its availability.