U.S. Senators Urge FTC to Investigate Apple for 'Transforming Online Advertising Into an Intense System of Surveillance'
In a letter sent to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan today, four U.S. legislators said the FTC should "investigate Apple and Google's role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Apple and Google "knowingly facilitated harmful practices by building advertising-specific tracking IDs into their mobile operating systems," said the letter, which was signed by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), as well as U.S. Representative Sara Jacobs (D-California).
Since the release of iOS 14.5 in April 2021, Apple has required apps to ask for permission before tracking a user's activity across other companies' apps and websites, as part of a feature named App Tracking Transparency. If a user selects the "Ask App Not to Track" option, the app is unable to access the device's Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). On earlier iOS versions, however, access to the IDFA was enabled by default.
"Until recently, however, Apple enabled this tracking ID by default and required consumers to dig through confusing phone settings to turn it off," the letter reportedly said, adding that "these identifiers have fueled the unregulated data broker market."
Given that Apple already implemented App Tracking Transparency last year, it is unclear if any potential FTC investigation would result in any further changes to the company's current policies. The Wall Street Journal said representatives for the FTC, Apple, and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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