Apple's major upcoming privacy feature that aims to provide users with more control over their data has started appearing with the latest version iOS 14.4 beta. As spotted by MacRumors, some beta testers are now seeing a prompt that lets them decide whether apps should have access to their dada in order to receive more personalised ads from companies. Earlier in June this year, Apple announced that the anti-tracking feature, App Tracking Transparency (ATT) would launch this year, but it was later pushed to 2021. The company's delay received severe criticism from civil and human rights organisation, who even wrote an open letter to CEO Tim Cook in November.
The stable version of iOS 14.4 is slated to release by February next, and regular iPhone and iPad users may start seeing the privacy prompt around the same time, as well. Apple originally planned to introduce the prompt in September, but it delayed to provide developers with more time to prepare. The Cupertino-based tech giant explains that companies would be required to show the ATT privacy prompt only when the user data is shared on the third-party vendor's servers. The company says that if the user data remains on the device only, it does not consider it as tracking. It explains it by saying, "When user or device data from your app is linked to third-party data solely on the user’s device and is not sent off the device in a way that can identify the user or device."
Meanwhile, it has also received backlash from tech giants like Facebook that says that Apple's new requirement would hurt small businesses, adding that the move is "more about profit than privacy." In a full-page newspaper ad, the social media company had said that Apple's move would force small businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, in turn benefitting Apple's bottom line. In response, Apple maintained that users deserve control and transparency from companies.
We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first. pic.twitter.com/UnnAONZ61I— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 17, 2020
Earlier this month, Apple started rolling out privacy nutrition labels on apps listed on the Apple App Store. The labels essentially provide all the information that the apps have access to, though users cannot control what information they want to share.