Apple pursues digital privacy by overturning ad tracking

iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro

Apple has been one of the leading brands when it comes to emphasizing the importance of data privacy. The brand decided to diminish iPhone ad tracking, which caused a stir among users and executives.

For years, data brokers, advertisers, and mobile developers have counted on digital surveillance to monitor and track user preferences. However, some Apple executives, such as Craig Federighi, have been firmly against ad tracking due to increasing concerns regarding a possible decline in user engagement and revenues.

The problem with IDFA

It all started with Apple’s initiative to develop a tracking tool that would allow the company to create more targeted ads. The tool was called identifier for advertisers (IDFA), and its main goal was to find the most harmless way to deliver personalized ads to users. However, the tool became more invasive with each new version of online advertising.

The more digital advertising evolved, the more invasive the IDFA became. A range of intermediaries started abusing it by monitoring and tracking internet users worldwide and gathering their information, such as their location. Since this was far from the initial goal of delivering a better ad experience for Apple users, the company decided to provide users with an option to turn off IDFA.

Apple also made various changes to prevent tracking over the years to mitigate the problems that arose around the IDFA. No matter how hard the company tried to prevent tracking, many developers found a way around Apple’s prevention measures and enhancements.

Federighi contacted the privacy team to express his concern regarding the IDFA problem. Although other executives expressed their concerns regarding the potential consequences of eliminating tracking, they finally agreed and devised a plan.

ATT – the problem solver

They came up with a plan to develop a solution called App Tracking Transparency (ATT). This solution requires app developers to ask for permission from users in case they want to allow online tracking of their activities.

When a user activates the app for the first time, they will receive a pop-up notification that asks whether they want to allow activity tracking online. If they opt out, the tracking won’t take place.

Unfortunately, ATT caused a decline in ad revenue for brands on the App Store, despite Apple’s best intentions. The impact of these privacy changes is still being measured, and the company will have to change its data collection practices to mitigate the associated risks. Meta did a study on the impact of ATT, and their expectations predict a $10 billion decrease in revenue in 2022 alone.

Steps to stop personalized ads

The ads Apple provides in the Apple News, App Store, and Stocks are based on your data, such as your Apple News reading history and App store browsing history. If you want to disable these interest-based ads, there are things you can do to either turn off Apple’s location-based ads or turn on the Limit Ad Tracking feature.

Here’s how to limit ad tracking:

  • Go to Settings and open the Privacy menu.
  • Navigate to Advertising and turn on Limit Ad Tracking.

Follow these steps to turn off location-based ads:

  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
  • Turn off Location-Based Apple Ads.

You can also review the information Apple uses to deliver ads by following these steps:

  • Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising > View Ad Targeting Information.

Apple also allows you to turn personalized ads off:

  • Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising.
  • Turn off Personalized Ads.

Remember that turning off personalized ads only limits Apple’s ability to provide relevant ads, but it may not reduce the number of ads.

A VPN is also a surefire way to prevent third parties from tracking your activities online. No matter how secure your Apple device may be, it won’t be enough to deal with the ever-increasing cyber threats lurking behind public Wi-Fi networks. Thus, a VPN download is one of the best options for ensuring that your activities are safe online. Additionally, it minimizes the data you automatically share with web entities (like your location via IP addresses).addresses).


Whether iOS or Android, data privacy should always be your primary concern, no matter what device you use. You should also be aware that everything you do online generates data, and even Google tracks your online activities. It’s just how the internet works.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to comply with it. Every brand should provide its users with extra privacy-enhancing features to allow them to control how their data is gathered and used up to a certain degree.