Bottom line: In a Thursday Developer Update, Apple announced that it is holding back on enforcing a new controversial data transparency policy and feature coming in version 14 of its mobile platforms. It will require developers post how their apps collect and use data. They will also have to ask for permission before scraping information from the device.
The feature is intended to give users more control over how companies use their personal information, which can include anything from browsing history to how often they use certain apps. The new policies and software changes come with the caveat that advertisers will have a much more difficult time targeting ads. Some advertising platforms, like Facebook’s Audience Network, could be completely neutered.
Last week, Facebook warned developers that Apple’s new security feature could be a complete catastrophe for app makers’ ad revenue. It claimed that in mockup tests, it saw revenue streams dip by as much as 50 percent. The company added that it could be much worse when the update is implemented, even going as far as to say it might not be worth advertising on iOS 14 or later.
Facebook was not the only one with something to say about the new combination of policies and software features. In July, shortly after it was announced at WWDC 2020, both Facebook and Google-based ad firms were sounding the alarm.
Likely due to this advertiser blowback and the bellyaching rant from Facebook last week, Apple is delaying its data transparency policies. The core software features will still ship with iOS 14, but Apple will not hold developers to the rules until after the new year.
“We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right,” said Apple in a Developer Update. “We are committed to ensuring users can choose whether or not they allow an app to track them. To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps will be required to obtain permission to track users starting early next year.”
So the tech is all there, but companies will not be required to use it until 2021. This delay gives app makers breathing room to update their software to comply with the new policies. However, it does not change the fact that users will eventually have the ability to turn off tracking.
Blocking data mining is an opt-in feature, meaning users will have the choice to block access to their information on an app-by-app basis. With all the negative press that data collection has gotten over the last few years, advertisers are terrified consumers will decide to block their efforts in droves, creating an adpocalypse for their revenue streams. And they are probably right.