Apple Software Chief Craig Federighi Defends App Tracking Transparency Feature

Following Apple's confirmation that it still plans to introduce a new App Tracking Transparency feature that will let users know when companies want to track them across apps and websites, which has attracted criticism from companies such as Facebook, Craig Federighi has explained more about the rationale behind the change to The Independent.

craig federighi wwdc 2018

The App Tracking Transparency feature allows users to opt-out of data collection and choose whether advertisers can track their activity. While it was originally supposed to arrive with iOS 14 earlier this year, Apple postponed the feature until early 2021 to give developers more time to accommodate it.

Federighi told The Independent that the new feature can be put down to Apple's support for privacy as a "core value" that has been present "since the beginning of the company," citing how Steve Jobs highlighted the Apple II's ability to allow users to secure their own information on floppy disks and have control over their data.

He said that the feature would ultimately be "better for even the people that are currently, at times protesting those moves," because it increases trust between users, developers, and advertisers. Federighi also said that similar concerns had been raised in the past about new privacy features, but they did not result in long-term issues, and eventually became widespread across the industry:

We introduced intelligent tracking prevention, several years ago, and at the time, parts of the ad industry were saying that the sky was going to be falling in and that their business was going to be destroyed by the fact that they couldn't track everyone from website to website to website. Well, in fact, if you look at what happened to the industry, that didn't happen at all, and yet we also protected user privacy.

Federighi also noted that Apple is not the largest manufacturer in most markets and implied that customers can choose whether or not they want to buy an Apple device:

If we sell cars without airbags, and we decided to put airbags in our cars before someone else did, and customers want to buy those, I think it's great that we've provided that that choice. We're not waiting for someone to require we do it, we're making that part of what it means to use our platform.

Federighi confirmed that Apple's decision to postpone the feature was singularly due to the concerns of some developers who feared that opting out of ad tracking would impact how their apps work, rather than disputes with the ad industry.

Although Apple has not announced any further privacy protection features that could affect the ad industry, Federighi said "we're going to watch and see what happens and try to make sure that we can keep the ecosystem healthy," hinting that more changes could be made in the future.

Finally, Federighi pointed to some of Apple's privacy features that have benefited users in the past, while still preserving the needs of the ad industry. He specifically mentioned the SKAdNetwork tool, which allows developers to track when an ad had led to a sale of a product, which has become a key metric for many advertisers, saying "we created a framework for doing that in a privacy-protecting way."

Future updates, he said, could bring more ways for the ad industry to "improve their ability to do effective advertising while preserving privacy, and we want to work technically on solutions to make that more and more effective."

Read the full interview at The Independent.

Top Rated Comments

eicca Avatar
9 months ago
The fact that Apple insists that privacy matters is the sole reason I will not switch to any other ecosystem.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TonyC28 Avatar
9 months ago
There is nothing to defend or explain, Craig. Keep up the good work. When Facebook is whining you are doing something right.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smithrh Avatar
9 months ago
He doesn't need to defend it, he needs to get it going.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cababah Avatar
9 months ago
If a company like Facebook is against it, I am automatically for it.

Imagine if Facebook made a phone. It would be free, come pre-installed with ads, already have all of your personal and contact information, and a virtual assistant named “Boris.”
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rainshadow Avatar
9 months ago
If Facebook is crying, I’m smiling
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
9 months ago
No need to defend yourself Craig, FB can eat crap
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

app tracking transparency twitter

Twitter Begins Asking Users to Enable Ad Tracking

Friday May 14, 2021 2:12 pm PDT by
Following an app update, Twitter today began asking users to enable ad tracking under Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules. After updating to version 8.65, which adds Spaces support, Twitter users will begin seeing a popup that asks them to "keep ads relevant" by allowing Twitter to track data from other companies like apps used and websites visited. Tapping "Continue" on the popup...
nba tracking prompt

LinkedIn Won't Use IDFA After Apple's App Tracking Transparency Changes

Thursday March 4, 2021 11:50 am PST by
Apple plans to begin enforcing its App Tracking Transparency changes following the release of iOS 14.5, and all apps that access an iPhone's ad identifier or IDFA will need to ask a user's permission before tracking is allowed. LinkedIn today said that with Apple's proposed changes, it will no longer be accessing the IDFA so LinkedIn users will not be presented with an ad tracking popup....
nba tracking prompt green

P&G Wanted to Skirt App Tracking Transparency Rules With China Data Collection Tech [Updated]

Thursday April 8, 2021 11:39 am PDT by
Procter & Gamble Co. was one of the companies that worked with the China Advertising Association to test a new data collection tool designed to get around Apple's App Tracking Transparency rules, reports The Wall Street Journal. The state-backed China Advertising Agency developed a new method of tracking users called CAID to replace access to the IDFA or advertising identifier of an iPhone...
google privacy labels

Google Planning to Take 'Baby Step' Approach to New Privacy Features for Users

Monday May 17, 2021 8:16 am PDT by
Google is facing internal concerns that implementing an Android equivalent of Apple's ATT or App Tracking Transparency framework, which offers iOS and iPadOS users the ability to opt-out of tracking across apps and websites, will hurt its more than $130 billion annual spending budget for ads, according to a new report from The Information. According to the report that cites sources within...
app tracking pop up ios 14

French Regulator to Probe Apple's Upcoming Anti-Tracking Feature [Updated]

Wednesday March 17, 2021 3:51 am PDT by
Apple will face a French antitrust probe into its upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature, following a complaint from advertisers in the country that the planned changes are anticompetitive. Starting in iOS 14.5, Apple will require apps to get opt-in permission from users to collect their random advertising identifier, which advertisers use to deliver personalized ads and track how...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
app store search ads 2

Apple Plans to Expand Ad Visibility in App Store

Thursday April 22, 2021 1:00 am PDT by
Apple is planning to boost its advertising business through a new ad slot on the App Store search page which will allow developers to promote their apps across the entire platform, rather than just when users search for a specific app, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Apple already boasts an App Store advertising business where it allows developers to pay for the top...
app tracking transparency prompt ios 14

Apple Will Require Apps to Request Permission to Track Users Starting With Next iOS 14 Beta Version

Wednesday January 27, 2021 9:00 pm PST by
Apple today announced that its App Tracking Transparency privacy measure will be required starting with the next beta versions of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14. Apple says the software updates will be publicly released in the early spring. The requirement was originally set to go into effect last September, but Apple delayed to provide developers with more time to prepare. With this...
tracking disabled ios 14 5

Analytics Suggest 96% of Users Leave App Tracking Disabled in iOS 14.5

Friday May 7, 2021 1:51 am PDT by
An early look at an ongoing analysis of Apple's App Tracking Transparency suggests that the vast majority of iPhone users are leaving app tracking disabled since the feature went live on April 26 with the release of iOS 14.5. According to the latest data from analytics firm Flurry, just 4% of iPhone users in the U.S. have actively chosen to opt into app tracking after updating their device...
maxresdefault

Apple Shares Video Explaining How App Tracking Transparency Works

Monday April 26, 2021 11:22 am PDT by
Now that iOS 14.5 is available to the public, App Tracking Transparency is being enforced by Apple. Developers are no longer able to access the advertising identifier of your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV without your express permission, which will prevent developers from tracking you across apps and websites for ad targeting preferences. If that sounds confusing, Apple has created an App...