You Can Stop Your Apps From Tracking You By Updating Your iPhone Right Now

Updating your iPhone software can be a drag if it means interrupting your precious scrolling, podcasting or meditation moments, but this time, it’s definitely worth it. 

The latest version of iOS (14.5) is now available, and it could become an actual moment in the history of online privacy. The new version of iOs makes tracking an opt-in feature. That’s right, you have a choice!

How it will work is this; when you install an app on your iPhone, you’ll have to allow it to track you across other apps, and if you like, you can stop it from tracking you entirely.

This is the most obvious pro-privacy stance Apple has taken in years and unsurprisingly, Facebook is not a fan. It’s launched a full-on PR campaign basically shouting about how much they hate it, claiming that this step by Apple will hurt small businesses. OK then.

For basically everyone else, this change brings good news. The Twittersphere is chirping with praise.

“Apple today is turning on enhanced privacy/transparency in apps. This is a great day for European policy ideas for cookie pop-up boxes, now deployed to millions of smartphones all around the world,” tweeted Lukasz Olejnik, a security and privacy researcher.  

The new feature is named ‘App Tracking Transparency’, and it pops up to greet you when you open apps with “Allow (insert app name here) to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” The first choice is “Ask App Not to Track” and the second one is “Allow.”

Image: Apple

Choosing not to track enforces Apple to disable the app from using the Apple device identifier, which is “a random string of letter and numbers assigned to our iPhones, that is used to track our activities across apps and websites” as explained in the New York Times.

You can also change this setting manually through Settings, which also allows you to check what apps have permission, and to turn it on and off.

Although a progressive step in the right direction, this new iPhone feature that comes with the new 14.5 iOS update won’t stop tracking altogether, or kill the cookies and ad industry that fuels Facebook and Google’s booming advertising business. 

It will probably be a while before we stop getting plagued with photos of the shoes we want but can’t afford. But it’s a step in the right direction.

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