Apple Does Right By Users And Advertisers Are Displeased

from EFF

With the new Safari 11 update, Apple takes an important step to protect your privacy, specifically how your browsing habits are tracked and shared with parties other than the sites you visit. In response, Apple is getting criticized by the advertising industry for “destroying the Internet’s economic model.” While the advertising industry is trying to shift the conversation to what they call the economic model of the Internet, the conversation must instead focus on the indiscriminate tracking of users and the violation of their privacy.

When you browse the web, you might think that your information only lives in the service you choose to visit. However, many sites load elements that share your data with third parties. First-party cookies are set by the domain you are visiting, allowing sites to recognize you from your previous visits but not to track you across other sites. For example, if you visit first examplemedia.com and then socialmedia.com, your visit would only be known to each site. In contrast, third-party cookies are those set by any other domains than the one you are visiting, and were created to circumvent the original design of cookies. In this case, when you would visit examplemedia.com and it loads tracker.socialmedia.com as well, socialmedia.com would be able to track you an all sites that you visit where its tracker is loaded.

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One Comment

  1. Apple’s actions in aiding the preservation of privacy for its users while browsing the internet on Safari is an incredible way to counteract the issue regarding online privacy in the advertisement industry. While the tech giant is under fire for “destroying the internet’s economic model,” what should really be addressed is why stalking and the invasion of privacy constitute the basis for online advertisement.

    The article details how these third-party companies track an individual’s online presence through the use of cookies, as third-party cookies are sent from other domains to an individual’s computer to track him or her on all the other websites that the tracker may also be located in. Companies use this to bid for the right to display an ad to an individual when they visit a page, or they could also “retarget” users by buying the ad space to retarget a user later, after they have viewed or purchased a product from a vendor.

    While Safari has been able to block these third-party cookies, certain organizations have still been able to find loopholes and continue to track users through the use of specific techniques. Safari’s new update, the Intelligent Tracking Prevention system, uses machine learning to identify the relationships a user may have with the websites they visit. When an individual visits a site, cookies can be used for a third-party for up to 24 hours, and when that time frame has terminated, the cookies can only be used to log in, and not to track, which prevents smaller ad companies from tracking that individual’s presence on other sites.

    As someone who generally does not like Apple products, I am pleased to hear that the tech company is continuing to implement software to protect their users from privacy infringement. Personally, it is the updates such as this that need to be expanded upon in their technology, while other software such as the animated emojis is amusing, but ultimately useless. However, the reactions following this update displays a more disturbing mindset in the advertisement industry. Although it helps increase revenue, there are ethical questions raised by this method of advertising, as disregarding a user’s basic right to privacy insinuates that the individual is not viewed as a human, but a statistic or form of revenue. Companies that participate in this form of advertising should be penalized, however, it is unfortunately so widespread that it may be difficult to act upon in the near future. For now, users should utilize software such as Apple’s new Safari update to ensure that they are not monitored while browsing the internet.

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