Starting this week, a new Apple privacy setting will let consumers conduct more of their online lives without the tech industry peering over their shoulders.
The setting will sharply limit the ability of apps to track what you do online and to share that information with others. That will disrupt the way many developers make money, and could end up changing the mix of apps you see in Apple’s app store. It will also lead to fewer ads that are tailored specifically to your likes or activities.
The new tracking setting is being implemented in the newest iPhone operating system, iOS 14.5. It requires apps to ask iPhone users for permission before collecting and sharing data for targeted advertising.
That’s a big shift in the way mobile apps collect data on their users, and it promises to cut off a key way consumer data is monetized on the Apple platform.
Once the new OS is installed on your phone, you’ll see a prompt when an app wants to track you, with two choices: “Allow” or “Ask App Not To Track.” Apps that exchange your information with advertising companies or data brokers without permission will risk being banned from the App Store.
How to Use the New No-Tracking Setting
- You’ll see a pop-up similar to the one pictured above. Just tap “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow.”
- Say no if you want a bit more privacy. The app won’t be able to collect a special ID number linked to your phone that’s used to tie together all of your behavior on various apps, combine it with other information about you, and target you with ads.
- Allow tracking if you like targeted ads, want the app to make more money, and don’t mind companies trading information about you.
- You can tell your phone to say no automatically and avoid the pop-ups. Open your phone settings, select “Privacy,” tap “Tracking,” and switch the toogle off for “Allow Apps to Request to Track.”
- Apps get a few lines in the pop-up to explain why they want to track you, and they may pitch you even more details before the new setting shows up.
- You may not see the pop-ups immediately. Apps are allowed to choose when they show it to you, but they aren’t allowed to track you until you say yes.
See below for more on what the setting does on a technical level.
This new iPhone tracking setting will affect your personal data, but the implications are far bigger. The way Apple designed the setting could disrupt many companies’ business model and alter what kinds of ads and apps you see online. It’s also a major strike in an ongoing turf war between Apple and other tech giants, such as Facebook and Google.