Apple has announced that it will soon roll out a feature allowing users to block tech companies from tracking their activities online and on other apps in a move that has angered Facebook over its impact on data collection.
When the new privacy measure kicks into action in the next few weeks, users would receive a warning notifying them that a tech company would like to track their activity on other apps and websites that they visit, as well as offering companies a chance to justify why users should allow monitoring. Users will then get to choose to allow tracking or block further data gathering.
The feature, christened App Tracking Transparency, will be incorporated in its iOS 14.5 updates, expected to be released in April, although Apple will not begin prompting users until later in the spring.
Facebook has grumbled to Apple about the recent measure, calling it a “discouraging prompt,” arguing that it will hurt app developers and claiming Apple is engaging in anti-competitive action to boost its advertising features.
Apple has robustly defended the feature by stating that tracking will not be prohibited. It will simply require companies “to obtain explicit user consent” and make the whole process “more transparent and under user control.”
This comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook declared that tech companies could “no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement,” seen as a shot at Facebook’s data collection methods.
The rollout of the feature and the feud with Facebook come as Apple battles off legal action by Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, over claims that Apple quells competition by forcing developers to use its own payment system, rather than directly through the app.