One of the new features announced at WWDC 2021 is iCloud Private Relay, a new security feature that lets users hide their real IP address from third-party servers so that they cannot track them across the web. It’s called fingerprinting and it is quickly becoming a popular method for advertisers because it allows them to pull together information about your device to pinpoint your identity. As 9to5Mac reports, Apple’s new fingerprint-blocking feature has the ad tech industry worried. From the report: As pointed out by a Digiday report, Private Relay comes to join forces with App Tracking Transparency, a feature introduced with iOS 14.5 to prevent apps from tracking users without asking permission. With ATT, Apple relies on developers to update their apps and ask users whether or not they want to be tracked. Private Relay is expected to considerably reduce user tracking at a deeper system level: “And herein lies the rub for ad execs. Apple has told them fingerprinting is off-limits but doesn’t seem to be aggressively enforcing this policy. Few execs, however, believe this perceived inaction will last. Eventually, goes the thinking, Apple won’t need to enforce a policy like ATT to rid its mobile operating system of fingerprinting — it will have the technology to block it from ever happening in the first place. The reason: Private Relay.”
However, this will probably result in even more companies upset with Apple. Nii Ahene, head of strategy at Tinuiti, warns that Apple needs to be careful to avoid Private Relay being considered “anti-competitive or too dictatorial,” as the company has been facing accusations of monopolistic practices. Digiday reports: “‘Apple needs to be careful when it uses its market position in a way that could be interpreted as either anti-competitive or too dictatorial,’ said Nii Ahene, chief strategy officer at digital agency Tinuiti. ‘This is why there’s a gradual rollout of Apple’s privacy plan. The company communicates what it will do early, starts to have conversations behind the scenes, and then over some time the enforcement of the ATT policy starts to kick in.'” When Apple introduced ATT, companies like Facebook publicly criticized the feature since it directly affects the advertising business, which is responsible for the main income of these companies. Now, it’s only a matter of time before more companies speak out against iCloud Private Relay.
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