Apple Share “A Day in the Life of Your Data” Report to Show How Companies Track User Data

On January 28, Data Privacy Day takes place every year, a time to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the personal information of people online. Apple commemorates Data Privacy Day by sharing an easy-to-understand article, “A Day in the Life of Your Data,” explaining how businesses track user information through websites and apps. The report also shares how privacy features across products from Apple give consumers more transparency and control, encouraging people to protect their personal information with the tools and knowledge.

“Privacy means peace of mind, it means security, and it means you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own data,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Our goal is to create technology that keeps people’s information safe and protected. We believe privacy is a fundamental human right, and our teams work every day to embed it in everything we make.”

“A Day in the Life of Your Data” allows consumers to better understand how third-party firms monitor their data through applications and websites while explaining the tools that Apple offers to make monitoring more transparent and giving users more power. The clarifier sheds light on how common some of these behaviors have become.

On average, applications have six other business “trackers” that have the sole purpose of capturing and monitoring individuals and their personal details. These trackers capture data that is compiled, exchanged, aggregated, and monetized, fueling an industry estimated at $227 billion per year.

Apple Share “A Day in the Life of Your Data” Report to Show How Companies Track User Data
(Credit: Apple)

Apple introduced a range of significant privacy features as part of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 to help users make more informed decisions about their data. In particular, two of them have the ability to make a huge difference in helping users protect their privacy:

  • With the new privacy information section on App Store product pages, a feature called the privacy nutrition label, Apple is requiring every app — including its own — to give users an easy-to-view summary of the developer’s privacy practices. Every product page on the App Store includes standardized, easy-to-read information based on the developer’s self-reported data practices. The privacy nutrition labels give users key information about how an app uses their data — including whether the data is used to track them, linked to them, or not linked to them.
  • And starting soon, with Apple’s next beta update, App Tracking Transparency will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies. Under Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track and make changes as they see fit. This requirement will roll out broadly in early spring with an upcoming release of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, and has already garnered support from privacy advocates around the world.
Apple Share “A Day in the Life of Your Data” Report to Show How Companies Track User Data
(Credit: Apple)

Privacy organizations praise Apple’s leadership:

Gus Hosein, Privacy International: “PI’s investigations into data brokers and ad tech companies reveal a complex, fast-growing industry that is opaque to the average user. Where there is a lack of transparency, exploitation thrives. Invisible and gratuitous data collection leaves users unable to exercise their rights and protect their privacy. Apple’s nutrition labels require industry to be clear and upfront with consumers and tools like App Tracking Transparency will help people to assert control over the invisible leakage of their data. With these commendable innovations, the industry will finally feel pressure to change. Consumer awareness and technical solutions are important parts of the solution, but in order to prevent a cat-and-mouse game between industry actors, we need substantive, enforceable regulation to stop this exploitation of our data.”

Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy: “Apple’s new data privacy tools ensure that people have greater control over their personal information. Data brokers and online advertisers will now have to act more responsibly when dealing with consumers who use third-party applications on Apple devices.”

Michelle Richardson, Center for Democracy and Technology: “Too often, consumers are unknowing participants in a web of data tracking and targeting. These changes will help rebalance the ecosystem so that data collection and sharing is more transparent and tracking is no longer the default. Systemic change of this breadth is a huge leap forward for consumers.”

Tristan Harris, Center for Humane Technology: “Today’s Apple announcement moves the ecosystem further away from the malicious effects of secretive profiling and microtargeting that enable many of the problems outlined in The Social Dilemma.”

Only the first step toward a better privacy experience is the recognition of business practices such as data tracking. Users will need the functionality and controls to determine how and by whom their information is used. Apple has led the market with every one of its goods and services by creating privacy guarantees.

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