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In a letter sent to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan today, four U.S. legislators said the FTC should "investigate Apple and Google's role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance," according to The Wall Street Journal.

generic-tracking-prompt-orange.jpg

Apple and Google "knowingly facilitated harmful practices by building advertising-specific tracking IDs into their mobile operating systems," said the letter, which was signed by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), as well as U.S. Representative Sara Jacobs (D-California).

Since the release of iOS 14.5 in April 2021, Apple has required apps to ask for permission before tracking a user's activity across other companies' apps and websites, as part of a feature named App Tracking Transparency. If a user selects the "Ask App Not to Track" option, the app is unable to access the device's Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). On earlier iOS versions, however, access to the IDFA was enabled by default.

"Until recently, however, Apple enabled this tracking ID by default and required consumers to dig through confusing phone settings to turn it off," the letter reportedly said, adding that "these identifiers have fueled the unregulated data broker market."

Given that Apple already implemented App Tracking Transparency last year, it is unclear if any potential FTC investigation would result in any further changes to the company's current policies. The Wall Street Journal said representatives for the FTC, Apple, and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Article Link: U.S. Senators Urge FTC to Investigate Apple for 'Transforming Online Advertising Into an Intense System of Surveillance'
 

antiprotest

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2010
2,375
4,753
Apple needs to be held accountable just like any other company, and perhaps even more so because of their grand claims about privacy when it has been often alleged/shown that they do not live up to their claims. I wish there is a way to make some of the executives personally liable, but I assume that can't really happen. But keep them on their toes and restrict false claims as much as possible.
 

nvmls

macrumors 68000
Mar 31, 2011
1,619
4,378
First create the feature to track users, then spin it as we're limiting it because "privacy".
Apple does trick their customer base to believe stuff in the most childish ways, don't blame them, this is the reality of the average consumer thinking.
 

spazzcat

macrumors 68030
Jun 29, 2007
2,898
2,017
Apple needs to be held accountable just like any other company, and perhaps even more so because of their grand claims about privacy when it has been often alleged/shown that they do not live up to their claims. I wish there is a way to make some of the executives personally liable, but I assume that can't really happen. But keep them on their toes and restrict false claims as much as possible.
They have gone to great lengths over the last few years to improve privacy.
 

leman

macrumors P6
Oct 14, 2008
16,527
14,030
I am surprised that Microsoft is missing from the list. Windows also uses advertisement IDs, and even more, includes unsolicited ads in their OS interface. Or what about Facebook? Amazon? It really feels silly to single Apple out in this regard.
 

GeoStructural

macrumors 6502a
Oct 8, 2016
917
2,963
Colombia
Apple needs to be held accountable just like any other company, and perhaps even more so because of their grand claims about privacy when it has been often alleged/shown that they do not live up to their claims. I wish there is a way to make some of the executives personally liable, but I assume that can't really happen. But keep them on their toes and restrict false claims as much as possible.

I agree, they started this and then pulled away when their ad service failed. Now they use their fake “privacy is a human right” slogan, which apparently comes with small print limitations.

Also, remember when Facebook was baked into iOS, it literally came installed and accessible through Settings; now they throw c**p at each other, I bet it was more of financial difference than any real interest to protect users that led to it being removed.
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 604
Mar 4, 2003
7,030
7,185
Uh, this long predates Apple’s advertising platforms, doesn’t it? I mean, once Google, Facebook and the like set a bar for advertisers on a level of analytics they can expect from the web, isn’t Apple forced to match it to participate in that market? And hasn’t Apple taken (perhaps imperfect) measures to balance the demands of the advertiser with the privacy of the user?
 

nutmac

macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
5,604
5,905
First create the feature to track users, then spin it as we're limiting it because "privacy".
Apple does trick their customer base to believe stuff in the most childish ways, don't blame them, this is the reality of the average consumer thinking.
All modern operating systems have APIs with unique identifiers, such as UUID and MAC address. Companies like Facebook offer open source APIs and single sign on service that many third party developers use, and these APIs exploit unique identifiers to aggregate and target users.

As far as I am aware of, Apple is the first company actively trying to close these loopholes. Are they a bit late to the party? Yes. But they are actively trying, many steps ahead of these bureaucrats.
 

antiprotest

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2010
2,375
4,753
Wait…isn’t Apple the one company that isn’t trying to do this? I don’t understand why they are going after Apple.
Because Apple may have lied or exaggerated their privacy claims. Thus the investigation. It is important to do it because, see, you believed Apple, and if it's not true, then it is important to expose them.

But I also agree with those who snark the senators. Frustrating that those who hold tech companies accountable often do not know tech. So it ends up going nowhere or the wrong decision is made.
 

w5jck

macrumors 65816
Nov 9, 2013
1,292
1,709
The power brokers in the Senate are mostly my age and older. I'm in my 60s. Unlike me though, few know squat about high tech or its industry. All they are doing is repeating buzzwords from constituents who like to complain about everything, especially stuff they don't understand. Every successful market company like Walmart and others have used complex statistics to track sales and interests in order to stay on top, and this goes back way before the internet. Insurance companies gather so much information on us to determine who is a higher risk to insure that it would make your head explode. My point is that this is not exclusive to high tech companies by any means. They should go after everyone collecting information. That includes their own campaigns which do the same in order to target more voters!
 

Realityck

macrumors 601
Nov 9, 2015
4,756
6,615
Silicon Valley, CA
Apple and Google "knowingly facilitated harmful practices by building advertising-specific tracking IDs into their mobile operating systems," said the letter, which was signed by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), as well as U.S. Representative Sara Jacobs (D-California).
I find this just a bit bizarre.
 

GeoStructural

macrumors 6502a
Oct 8, 2016
917
2,963
Colombia
All modern operating systems have APIs with unique identifiers, such as UUID and MAC address. Companies like Facebook offer open source APIs and single sign on service that many third party developers use, and these APIs exploit unique identifiers to aggregate and target users.

As far as I am aware of, Apple is the first company actively trying to close these loopholes. Are they a bit late to the party? Yes. But they are actively trying, many steps ahead of these bureaucrats.

Anything that has a “sign in with…”, “Share to…” or “Like…” can potentially be exploited by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the likes of them, this does not make Apple less liable though.

I am sure these Congresspeople have a few backers behind them because: $$$. I don’t expect these older, busy politicians to know much about the ins and outs of the tech industry, they must be actively influenced by interested parties.
 

paulovsouza

macrumors regular
Oct 3, 2012
176
262
Do I feel like Apple has a lot of power, yes. Do I trust the government to regulate consumer privacy, because they feel like transparency between apps seems “unfair” because it’s controlled by Apple.. no. Especially if they can be financially swayed by other companies, saying empowering consumers is “bad” for consumers.
 

Realityck

macrumors 601
Nov 9, 2015
4,756
6,615
Silicon Valley, CA
The problem here is with our legislators. Some of them just have to be voted out of office or recalled. It seems to be the dems that is going after big tech and they should be focusing on the state of the country, not the state of big tech.
Another example of technology naivety, literally the Don Quixote club they must be members of. :D
 
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