In recent years, Apple has made privacy a cornerstone of the iPhone user experience. In fact, Apple privacy goes so far as to state that “privacy is a fundamental human right”. Company executives, meanwhile, regularly state that privacy is one of Apple’s core values.
So what does this mean concretely? Well, that means Apple doesn’t care what you do online. This, of course, stands in stark contrast to companies like Facebook and Google.
Apple has stepped up its privacy efforts over the past few years. Along with various ad campaigns that tout the company’s various privacy-focused features, the company has steadily added more and more privacy layers with each successive iOS update.
Apple takes app tracking seriously
Most notably, Apple introduced app tracking transparency with its iOS 14.5 update. This iPhone privacy feature lets users decide which apps can track their activity on apps and websites “for ads or sharing with data brokers.”
Therefore, all iOS apps today need your express permission to track your behavior on other apps and websites. Tracking is disabled by default since iOS 14.5. Still, there’s a good chance you’ve enabled the feature inadvertently, or even deliberately, for some apps.
How to Check Which Apps Are Keeping an Eye on You
In light of the above, sometimes it helps to do some tidying up on your device. In other words, you might want to check which apps are watching you.
If you’re concerned about your iPhone’s privacy and want to see which apps are tracking you, it’s easy. First, open the Settings app. Next, select the Privacy pane. Once there, select Tracking.
By doing this, you will see a list of apps that have requested permission to track you. From this list, you can easily deny or grant access to specific apps for tracking purposes.
If you’re extremely privacy-conscious and don’t even want to be asked about app tracking, there’s a solution. All you have to do is go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and tap the “Allow apps to request tracking” button at the top of the screen.
Facebook and Apple clash over iPhone privacy
Apple’s app tracking transparency framework has caused countless headaches for Facebook. Simply put, Apple’s changes with iOS 14.5 made it harder for Facebook to serve hyper-specific targeted ads to users. This, in turn, impacted the company’s ad revenue.
Apple, naturally, didn’t see this as their problem. For Apple, iPhone privacy is about helping users, not hurting Facebook.
To this end, Tim Cook caught on Twitter end of 2020 and said:
We believe that users should have choice over what data is collected about them and how it is used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, the app tracking transparency in iOS 14 will just require them to ask your permission first.
Facebook, meanwhile, argued that Apple’s privacy update would hurt small businesses and local businesses. In a blog post addressing Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, the company said:
At Facebook, we use data to deliver personalized ads, which support small businesses and help keep apps free. Starting today, Apple will require apps that engage in what it calls “tracking” to ask permission when using information from apps and websites owned by others. other companies to personalize or measure advertisements. This will be done through an Apple-designed prompt that discourages people from giving permission…
“Digital advertisers say they’ve lost much of the granular data that made mobile ads on iOS devices effective and justified their pricing,” The Wall Street Journal reported few months ago.
By the way, Apple is taking privacy to the next level with iOS 16 with a new Lock Mode. This feature will protect users who might fall prey to sophisticated spyware.