You may have heard it in the news: Apple’s new privacy settings for iPhones and other devices are making waves, affecting companies like Facebook and paving the way for device security in the modern age.

But just what are these privacy settings? Are they too much?

Let’s break it down…

Why does privacy even matter?

Ad and data tracking lets companies collect information about you and your browsing habits.

Let’s look at an example. Robert owns an iPhone, but it’s an old operating system and he doesn’t have any privacy settings turned on. Apple, Facebook, and any other enabled apps on his phone can determine…

  • where he lives
  • how he shops and spends his time (both online and physically)
  • what his hobbies and interests are
  • what’s going on in his life

Pretty quickly, data tracking can gather that Robert is a 52-year-old married man of hispanic origin whose father just passed away. He has no children, three cats, and an aquarium. His interests include restoring old cars, antiques, and fishing. He lives in his home in Westminster, Maryland, but he likes to vacation to Deep Creek every June. Data tracking can determine where he works, shops, eats, sleeps, and goes for doctor appointments – and much, much more.

The information gleaned by these apps is shockingly large and detailed. And it is highly, highly valuable. It can be sold to third parties and used for…

  • In-app targeting that increases click rates, allowing the company to charge more for in-app advertising (ex: Facebook, Google)
  • Other kinds of advertising targeting
  • Statistics, analytics, and ad tailoring

What are Apple’s privacy changes?

The iOS 15.2 is the iPhone operating system’s latest version, with the most stringent security settings and user options yet. Apple iPhone users can:

  • Disable ad tracking across all apps
  • See and record what apps are doing in the background
  • Revoke access to the data you don’t want to share
  • Turn off location settings
  • Turn off Apple targeted advertising
  • Stop sharing analytics data
  • Anonymously browse the internet
  • Turn on ad blockers
  • Open emails without sharing tracking info
  • Turn off “Hey Siri” so your microphone isn’t on 24/7
  • Turn on iCloud private relay to hide your IP address

Apple’s goal is to limit how much of your personal info is leaking out into the world, accessible by advertisers and people who can make money off the information. That’s a good thing, right?

Well, not everyone’s a fan.

Why did Facebook say these changes will cost it $10 billion

Almost 3 billion people are on Facebook each month. With ad tracking enabled, this is a cash cow that the company has been tapping into for years. Gathering that kind of valuable information increases its ability to offer targeted ad placement and improve their own growth and development.

Facebook isn’t alone, either. In today’s online world, 96% of small businesses use some form of online advertising for their marketing and in 2020 alone, online advertising revenue reached almost $140 billion. Over 80% of shoppers also go online before buying anything, creating a heavy demand for online targeting.

Of course, Apple’s updated privacy settings will shut a lot of that down. Facebook will lose huge portions of its easy ad targeting revenue, and other businesses may have to quickly pivot away from the ad tracking model to still reach their customers.

What does this mean for future data sharing and individual privacy?

There’s no doubt that the online advertising space is changing. People want control over their lives, including who knows what about them. While there are benefits to seeing ads for what you might want, and some businesses rely on those methods, privacy and cybersecurity are too important to allow the continued, unfettered distribution of our information.

What’s more, gathering and storing this data gives hackers and malicious parties a chance to obtain that information for even worse purposes, like scams and identity theft. Facebook already suffered one such breach in 2018 that exposed nearly 50 million users.

We at TCecure know the value of your data and your life, so we encourage the marketing industry to explore new ways to reach audiences, and we applaud Apple for taking cybersecurity seriously!

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