A Day in the Life of Your Data: Apple Details How Companies Can Track You Across Apps and Websites

Thursday is Data Privacy Day, and Apple is marking the occasion in a few ways, including sharing a new "A Day in the Life of Your Data" document that details how third-party companies can track user data across websites and apps.

apple privacy
Apple says that, on average, mobile apps include six "trackers" from third-party companies for the "sole purpose of collecting and tracking people and their personal information," fueling an industry valued at $227 billion per year. "A Day in the Life of Your Data" aims to show what advertisers, data brokers, social media companies, and other entities can learn about a father and daughter who spend a pleasant day at the park.

One example is the father and daughter taking a selfie at the park, editing the photo with a filter app, and sharing it on social media, a seemingly innocent series of actions that still resulted in data being collected and tracked across multiple apps:

Later at the playground, John and Emma take a selfie. They play with a photo filter app, settling on adding bunny ears to the photo. The filtering app, however, is able to access all the photos on the device and the attached metadata, rather than only the playground selfie. John posts the picture on a social media app. The app links John's 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 goes on to list various Apple privacy features that would have given the father and daughter more transparency and control over their data, including the choice to give the filter app access to only their selfie, instead of the entire photo library.

The document also highlights Apple's four key privacy principles and provides more information about App Tracking Transparency, a privacy measure that will require apps to request permission to track users starting with the next iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 betas. Apple says the software updates will be released in the 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 Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi, in a statement shared today. "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."

Apple CEO Tim Cook will be speaking on data privacy today at the Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection conference, based in Brussels. Cook is scheduled to speak at 8:15 a.m. Pacific Time, and a live stream will be available on YouTube.

Top Rated Comments

QCassidy352 Avatar
13 months ago

I bet you most people will be ok with data tracking over convenience.
Which is fine, if they want to make that choice. But it should be a (transparent) choice.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
13 months ago
Excellent PDF; but should be a video series.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
13 months ago

I just read the document and it was very nice. They showed how an average person is tracked in a simple but easily understandable way. This can be shown to non tech enthusiastic people who do not know or care about Privacy.
The average person doesn't care about being tracked. They will only wake up when that information is used against them in a really bad way. Today that is happening with a tiny fraction of the population. Over time that will grow and by then it will be too late for the average person to do anything about it.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
13 months ago
Is Data Privacy Day the day that Facebook and Google stop tracking everyone for a day?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subjonas Avatar
13 months ago

This is all fine and dandy while Apple being the richest company in the world.
But, they day social media apps costs hundreds of dollars, the little filter app for selfies 200 dollars and so on, the silver lining may fade.

For now, apps and social media is dead cheap, if not for free, because it's actually an advertising platform. Nobody watches linear TV anymore, or commercial radio, which means that way is not so appealing to advertisers. Environment concerns and cost prohibit the use of postal SPAM, while email SPAM is not that effective, and scorned upon by most people.

Advertisers will find new ways, but it will be at the cost of all the cheap apps and services.
Imagine Google charging by the search. Sure, there might be free alternatives, but not as good. YouTube charing $50 a month for unlimited views, FaceBook, Instagram, "whatever's IN this week-social media app" costs $20 with a $10 recurring fee for usage.

I can't say I'd be bothered, at all, since I exist on no social media platform, or use Google, or whatever. But, I expect a lot the now very vocal privacy advocates and FaceBook-haters will be unpleasantly surprised when the services they rely on and the apps they want raises their monthly "internet-services-bill" a couple of hundred dollars a month.
I totally agree it will be an unpleasant surprise, but it’s long been coming. The simple fact is the public has been living in a fantasy land, getting mostly free apps, not asking what the true cost is and who’s paying it (because everything has a cost). Now the cost is (hopefully) being made known, so people will finally have to come to terms with whether they want to continue paying for it with their personal data, or pay the actual money cost, or just do without it. I see it as simply an overdue wake up call to the real world.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AmazeSE Avatar
13 months ago
I just read the document and it was very nice. They showed how an average person is tracked in a simple but easily understandable way. This can be shown to non tech enthusiastic people who do not know or care about Privacy.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

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...
nba tracking prompt duo

Apple Details Ways Advertisers Can Measure the Impact of Ads Without Tracking Users Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch

Wednesday April 7, 2021 6:00 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. To help advertisers adjust to this change, Apple today shared a new version of its "A Day in the Life of your Data" document with details on two...
app tracking transparency

Apple's Craig Federighi on App Tracking Transparency: 'Users Deserve and Need Control' of Data

Monday April 26, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
With Apple now enforcing its App Tracking Transparency rules with the release of iOS 14.5, The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern did an interview with Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi to talk about Apple's aim with the feature and how it works. For those unfamiliar with App Tracking Transparency, it requires app developers to get express user permission before accessing a...
generic tracking prompt blue

Apps Continuing to Track Users Despite Apple's Privacy Prompt

Monday June 7, 2021 8:04 am PDT by
Apple is facing increasing pressure to tighten its App Tracking Transparency rules after it was found that third parties are using workarounds to identify users who do not consent to be tracked, according to the Financial Times. Apple rules around App Tracking Transparency, which came into effect as part of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, require apps to ask for consent to track users across...
tracking disabled ios 14 5

Apple Rolling Out Fix for Greyed Out App Tracking Transparency Toggle

Wednesday May 19, 2021 1:54 am PDT by
Apple appears to be ironing out a bug that meant some iOS 14.5 users were unable to adjust the "Allow Apps to Request to Track" setting that was rolled out as part of Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature. In iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, ATT requires that apps ask for permission before tracking your activity across other companies' apps and websites for targeted...
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...
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...
nba tracking prompt

Apple Reminds Developers About Upcoming App Tracking Transparency Enforcement in iOS 14.5

Monday April 5, 2021 1:37 pm PDT by
Apple today reminded developers that its App Tracking Transparency rules will be enforced starting with the launch of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5. When these updates are released, developers will need to get express permission to access the IDFA or advertising identifier on a device to track users across apps and websites for ad targeting purposes.Make sure your apps are ready for...

Popular Stories

AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature Red

AirPods Pro 2 Could Start a New Accessory Ecosystem

Friday January 14, 2022 2:34 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro could arrive alongside a new series of accessories, recent leaked images suggest. Alleged leaked photos of the next-generation AirPods Pro obtained by MacRumors showed a charging case with a metal loop on the side for attaching a strap. Apple has not used this design for any of its other AirPod models and it is unclear why it would be added in this...
netflix2

Netflix Again Raises Prices for All Plans, 4K Streaming Now $20 Per Month

Friday January 14, 2022 12:46 pm PST by
Netflix today updated the prices for its streaming plans, and all of its offerings are now more expensive. The Basic plan is now priced at $9.99 per month, the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 per month, and the Premium plan is priced at $19.99 per month. The Basic plan is $1 more expensive, up from $8.99 per month. This plan allows users to watch on just one screen at a time, and it limits ...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole 16x9 120hz

Analyst: All iPhone 14 Models to Feature 120Hz Displays, 6GB of RAM, and More

Friday January 14, 2022 7:02 am PST by
Apple is rumored to announce four new iPhone 14 models in September, and ahead of time, analyst Jeff Pu has outlined his expectations for the devices. In a research note with Haitong International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Pu claimed that all iPhone 14 models will feature ProMotion displays, compared to only Pro models currently. ProMotion enables a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz ...
Unlikely Products 2022 Feature

Six Rumored Apple Products You're Unlikely to See This Year

Saturday January 15, 2022 2:06 pm PST by
Much has been said about what consumers could see from Apple in 2022, but the company is also working on a handful of rumored products that aren't expected to be unveiled for at least another 12 months, and in some cases a lot longer. Of course, that's assuming they get released at all. Apple works on many potential products some of which ultimately never see the light of day. With that in...
top stories 20220115

Top Stories: iPhone 14 Pro Rumors, iCloud Private Relay Controversy, iOS 15.2.1 Released, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 6:00 am PST by
Hole-punch? Pill? Hole-punch and pill? Rumors about what the front camera system on the iPhone 14 Pro will look like are evolving rapidly, and it now appears we might be getting a novel but potentially controversial design later this year. Other major stories this week included some confusion and controversy about iCloud Private Relay being disabled for some T-Mobile customers, increasing...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
iPad Pro Big Ol Logo Orange

Next iPad Pro Might Feature Large Glass Apple Logo to Allow Wireless Charging

Friday January 14, 2022 10:44 am PST by
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Debby Wu last year reported that Apple had tested a new iPad Pro with a glass back for wireless charging capabilities. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said he expects the new iPad Pro to be released in 2022. While the new iPad Pro is still on track to feature wireless charging, 9to5Mac's Filipe Espósito today reported that Apple may have ultimately...
ipad air 4 video

New iPad Air Rumored to Launch This Spring With A15 Chip, 5G, Center Stage Camera, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 8:05 pm PST by
Apple is planning to release a fifth-generation iPad Air with similar features as the sixth-generation iPad mini, including an A15 Bionic chip, 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage support, 5G for cellular models, and Quad-LED True Tone flash, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. Citing reliables sources in China, the report claims that the new iPad Air could be...