Today is Data Privacy Day, which is “an international effort to empower individuals and encourage businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.” Apple is marking the occasion by sharing a new document called “A Day in the Life of Your Data”. The document details how companies track user data across apps and websites. The report also shares how privacy features across Apple’s products give users more transparency and control.
Apple says on average, mobile apps include six trackers from third-party companies, designed for the sole purpose of tracking you and your personal information. The information fuels an industry valued at $227 billion per year. The document shows what advertisers, social media companies, data brokers, and other nosy parties can learn about your online and device activities. As an example, the document uses a father and daughter spending the day at a park.
The document narrates how the father and daughter play with a photo filter app, which has access to all of the photos on their device and their associated metadata, not just the playground selfie they took. The dad posts the photo on a social media app, which links his “current online activity to a trove of data collected by other apps, such as his demographic information and purchasing habits, using an email address, a phone number, or an advertising identifier.”
The document also details the various Apple privacy features that would give the dad and his offspring more control of their data and more transparency over how the data would be used. Examples include how the filter app could have been given access only to the selfie, not the entire photo library.
The document also highlights Apple’s four key privacy principles and provides more information about the company’s App Tracking Transparency measure, which will require apps to request permission to track users, starting with the next betas of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14. The software updates are expected to be released in early spring.
“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.”