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Apple updates its ‘A Day in the Life of Your Data’ educational report

Apple’s easy-to-understand data report has a new version.

What you need to know

  • Apple has released an update to its “A Day in the Life of Your Data” report.
  • The new report adds information about AppTrackingTransparency and ad auctions.

Apple has released a new version of “A Day in the Life of Your Data,” its report that helps users understand how companies track them across different apps and websites. It also provides information on the tools that are available to them in order to make that tracking more transparent and also control what they allow to be tracked.

The latest version of the document starts off with Steve Job’s famous quote about privacy in which the late CEO said that companies should be required to ask and then ask again in order to ensure people understand what they are giving away.

“I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.”

The report also answers some commonly asked questions around tracking and what actually happens when you tell an app not to track you:

What are identifiers and how are they used?

Identifiers such as the Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) and email address help identify a specific de- vice across a network. They also allow advertisers to create a detailed profile of your activity across different apps or websites when they see your device identifier and associate your activity with it.

What is the Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA)?

The Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) is a user-controllable identifier assigned by iOS to each de- vice. As a software-based identifier rather than one that is tied to the hardware itself, the IDFA can be blocked for a particular app by the user via the App Tracking Transparency prompt. This gives the user control over IDFA-based tracking.

Can Apple guarantee that an app isn’t tracking me if I select “Ask App not to Track”?

If you select “Ask App not to Track,” the developer will not be able to access the identifier for advertisers (IDFA), which is often used to track. The app developer is also required to respect your choice beyond the advertising identifier. This is required by the policies the developer agrees to when submitting their app for distribution on the App Store — if we learn that a developer is tracking users who ask not to be tracked, we will require that they update their practices to respect your choice, or their app may be rejected from the App Store.

Apple has no doubt updated this document now because AppTrackingTransparency is set to launch when iOS 14.5 rolls out to the public. The new feature will require apps to ask for permission to track users and if the user says no, the app will no longer have access to the user’s Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA).

The move initially recieved sharp backlash from, most notably, Facebook. The social media giant launched an attack ad campaign claiming that it would hurt small businesses and cause immense harm to the advertising industry. However, just recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the new feature could actually benefit the company.

You can read the full report on Apple’s website.