back to article Apple: Yeah, about those ground-breaking privacy features in iOS 14 – don't expect them until next year

Apple has delayed a rule change that requires apps on iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 to request permission from the user before tracking them via a unique ID number. Specifically, Apple will not, for now, require apps to explicitly ask for permission before utilizing its Identifier for Advertisers, or IDFA, to track people's …

  1. DS999

    Disappointing they are delaying this change

    But there's been a way to avoid this on iPhones for years. Settings/Privacy/Advertising/Reset Ad Identifier. Resetting the ID drops the relationship between the data they collecting on your in the past and the data they now collect on your new IDFA. So it screws Facebook and the others just as much, they just don't know it. I do it every couple weeks (basically whenever I read something about privacy on iPhones it makes me think "oh yeah I haven't reset the ad ID lately")

    What Apple is doing (eventually) with iOS 14 is asking users if they want to allow a specific app to access the IDFA. Not sure what the point is, it should be an all or nothing thing. They should just default the IDFA to resetting daily and call it good, and play the world's tiniest violin while Facebook wails.

    1. RM Myers Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

      I suspect 99.9% of iphone users are like me, and didn't realize this setting even existed until now. This is definitely the most helpful tip I've picked up from El Reg recently.

      1. Halfmad Silver badge

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        Can confirm, had no idea.

        Then again I don't use facebook etc - but I'll still do it :D

      2. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        I reset this regularly (several times a week) and it bugs me that there's not an option to automatically change it on a user-selected frequency. Can't wait for the option to opt out entirely...

        At the same time I also clear my browser cache. I use private browsing for everything but when you exit an app to view a web link (eg in Twitter), the browser opens in non-private mode... I'd love to see that change too, so the browser opens in what is currently your default (private or not).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

      Reset Advertising Identifier isn't available in the iOS14 betas

    3. TaabuTheCat

      Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

      Been doing the reset thing too for as long as I can remember, but you're not discovering that setting with going to look for it. On one hand I'm glad it's there, on the other I'm disappointed that Apple buries it. And it they are removing it in ios14 then all the talk of privacy is just that.

      1. DS999

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        Being able to reset it is pointless if you can block apps from reading it at all. I hope they put back the reset setting if they're delaying the blocking though.

    4. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

      I don't mind having the choice of whether it's enabled for specific apps as there are a few I probably wouldn't mind allowing in order to support them e.g. alternative streaming platforms.

    5. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

      Do you really think that facebook don't have a Apple-IDFA <> Facebook-ID mapping somewhere? Sure it may take a few impressions for them to confirm the link, but they'll just associate the new ID to your existing records.

      This is not rocket science; it's far more lucrative.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        Some sites run scripts to re-associate 'broken' IDs. Check 'Cookie Options' for things like

        - Receive and use automatically-sent device characteristics for identification (track a unique device)

        - Link different devices (track you across different devices)

        - Match and combine offline data sources

        (from the tfl.gov.uk site)

        Even tvlicencing.co.uk does it's bit for ad tracking despite being ad-free and working on behalf of an ad-free service (Crapita collect on behalf of BBC)

      2. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        I've got to log into one of their properties or apps for that to happen. It doesn't.

      3. DS999

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        Do you really think that facebook don't have a Apple-IDFA <> Facebook-ID mapping somewhere?

        Of course they do, so the IDFA thing is irrelevant in the Facebook app. But Facebook sells advertising all over, and without access to the IDFA they can't match your Facebook ID to your phone outside the app.

        The IDFA is irrelevant within the boundaries of any app that you have to login to. They want the IDFA so they can track you across all the apps, and know that Facebook ID DS999 is the same guy on Twitter, Amazon, Fortnite, your bank app, etc.

    6. John Jennings Bronze badge

      Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

      Hiding consent by burying an option is not 'informed consent' under GDPR rules.

      The tricky part here is that there is nothing in the ID itself - its how that interacts with companies such as FB.

      There is no question that FB links the ID to the device, the user and the FB app and so can monitor sites that have a tracker belonging to FB hosted.

      The ability to reset (if it still exists in 14) on its own is not enough - users need to be able to manage the option easily - they need to be informed, and easily make the choice (even if most select 'dont care')

      1. DS999

        Re: Disappointing they are delaying this change

        You are presented the choice to opt in (or will once the option is enabled in iOS 14) or not when the app first tries to access the IDFA, just like it does if it wants to access your photos or the microphone.

        That's why Facebook has been trying to paint this as users being bombarded with dialog boxes. Probably a lot of apps try to get this information, so the first time you run them on iOS 14 you're gonna get asked. If it is like how iOS handles other permissions you would be able to go into settings and change them all manually ahead of time if you want to avoid being asked later.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Holmes

    It seems ad firms doubt that app users will choose to be tracked.

    Can't think that would be...

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: It seems ad firms doubt that app users will choose to be tracked.

      Typo damnit - 'can't think why that would be'

  3. Ashto5

    Is There An App For That

    We need a simple app that resets the ID for the user at random intervals.

    SOD the big data slurpers.

    I have NEVER bought anything based on an ad that was shown to me on an unrelated page, never had never will.

  4. r4co0n
    Mushroom

    Drop the feature completely!

    What would be the downsides for the user, if the IDFA would change on every request the app is making for it? The device/app id for features like "You were using this account from these devices" is not necessarily affected by this, on iOS, you can use your application's VendorID instead. though you will not be able to fingerprint across reinstalls of your app, which I consider a feature.

    This somehow feels like a discussion about how much crap can be reasonably swallowed by the average customer - What is the benefit of having IDFA at all from my perspective? No, I'm not an advertiser...

    1. DS999

      Re: Drop the feature completely!

      Maybe there are some small time developers who need all the revenue they can get, and you trust them when they say they won't abuse it? Or some people who are dumb enough to believe that giving advertisers extra information so the ads are better targeted to them is somehow a good thing?

      Mostly I agree, screw the advertisers. If it means I have a pay a few bucks for an app that was previously free, I'm fine with that. But some people would rather have the free stuff, so I'd like to give them that option.

      I wonder if we will see apps that require payment of some sort to use them if you disable IDFA? Would Apple's developer guidelines even allow such a thing? Would the GDPR?

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