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Apple protects user information in its latest iOS4 min read

December 28, 2020 4 min read


Apple protects user information in its latest iOS4 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Apple, the technology giant behind the iPhone, iPad, and Macbook series gadgets, recently released iOS 14 for the iPhone. This update allows users to limit sharing their personal data with advertisers! How cool is that.

What prompted Apple to do this?

Apple has made privacy a cornerstone of its campaign to earn the goodwill of its users. While Facebook and Google rely on advertising to make money, Apple makes money directly by selling its devices like iPhones and iPad. That means limiting access to user data has little to no impact on its business.

However, other tech giants rely on that data to make money. For example. Facebook services like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook are free, so how does it really make money? By selling our data to advertisers who then target us with their ads. This is why you probably get ads from nearby restaurants on Facebook if you were talking to someone about eating out for dinner!

What happens when advertisers get your data?

Advertisers are able to know your interests, your location, and other information, which allows them to target the ads better to your interests. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. It isn’t always in our best interests to let advertisers have access to all our data!

Why so?

When companies know so much about you, and essentially sell your interests, what do you become?

That’s right. You become the product that companies are marketing and selling! How terrible is that? Personal information should be in the user’s control. Essentially, anyone who doesn’t want to share that information should be able to say no. While companies say this option is available, its not really the default setting of any social media application.

For example, Facebook would rather keep personal data sharing with advertisers as default and then allow them to change in privacy settings. Most people aren’t even aware their information is sold and hence don’t change the setting! So, while you’re reading this, don’t forget to set the Privacy toggle off on all your social media apps!

Apple’s recent action against X-Mode

X-Mode is a company that finds personal information about your location. Let’s say there is a gaming app that tracks your location. If that gaming app had the X-Mode code integrated into their app, then X-Mode would get your location data. X-Mode could sell this data to advertisers. Apple wants to make sure that developers remove this code from their apps.

Along with Apple, Google has also gone ahead and asked app developers to remove the X-Mode code from their apps to prevent such location data tracking and sharing.

War of Apple and Facebook on privacy controls

Apple has let advertisers know that with iOS 14, iPhone users will be automatically opted out of any personal data sharing, which are stored as cookies during app usage and website browsing.

Owliver’s Obscure Observation:cookie is a small piece of text sent to your browser by a website you visit. This helps the website remember that you visited and also what you did, making it easier when you visit again.

Obviously, the most impacted business here is Facebook, whose business model is based on selling anonymized personal data to advertisers for targeted advertising. As an example, if you visit a website that sells painting supplies, then a facebook cookie on that website will communicate to their platform that you visited that site. Having known that you have an interest in art, Facebook uses that information to show ads about it on other websites you visit.

Facebook contends, that personalizing ads engages people better and also gives better sales (also called conversions in tech jargon) to businesses. 

Facebook also contends that it keeps it’s platform like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook free to users because it makes money from advertisers by using personal information to show ads to people. 

Owliver’s Observations
iOS is Apples Operating system for it’s iPhones and iPads. Operating systems are the heart of a device and coordinates all it’s functions, hardware and software programs. 

Think with Owliver

– Is it ok for companies to sell our personal information to advertisers under the pretext of giving us their service for free?
– What if they say that our personal information is anonymized (shared such that name and identity of the person is not revealed). Then is it ok for Facebook to sell our anonymized information?
– What are the risks of sharing your personal information online?

Would love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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