iOS combatting big data

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Graphic by Kyle Putt

Jessie Castellano, Contributing Writer

Have you ever searched something on the internet and, within 24 hours, got an ad for that same product? This practice, called ad tracking, has caused millions of consumers to express unease with the state of their privacy. In response, Apple is implementing serious new rules regarding privacy concerns with its iOS 14 operating system. Although these policies did intensify slightly with iOS 13, these new systems give consumers the ability to decide to turn off ad tracking within their settings. When apps are downloaded through the App Store, users will receive a notification asking whether or not these apps can track them. These new capabilities grant users much more privacy and independence going forward. By having the power to see which apps track them, how they conduct tracking and what data is collected, iOS 14 ultimately offers users a greater sense of control. 

Many people fear tracking capabilities via the internet, but some companies have concerns over losing their ability to directly engage with consumers. The restraints placed by Apple are a direct threat to companies such as Google and Facebook, who use ad tracking with every consumer to grow business and create a personalized media experience. Many other businesses are media based on ad tracking as their sole line of work. Initially, the deficiency of ad tracking will hurt Google and Facebook but will dwindle to these smaller companies. In the future, it will force people to question where their information is going and how it is being used, therefore hurting all businesses that rely on ad tracking. However, what is more important: the privacy of the consumer or the benefits that tracking brings to big businesses? 

Aside from Google and Facebook’s concerns, Apple’s restrictions on tracking could be a step in the right direction. Apple plans on promoting this privacy standard everywhere, even lessening their own small company that focuses on ad tracking. Users still have the choice to keep ad tracking on, so the market will decrease but may not diminish completely. 

The largest intention for ad tracking is to benefit the consumer, so shouldn’t the decision be in the hands of the consumer? Sometimes ad tracking does not contribute to the overall experience; oftentimes it distracts or agitates the user. Yes, with ad tracking users may have the capability to see ads based on their interests, but oftentimes it is found to be invasive. Over the last 10 years, mobile advertising has advanced drastically, which has certainly increased its effectiveness, but has also given rise to the ability to recover things as personal as a consumer’s political leanings, housing status and job history. The idea of one’s entire private life being revealed with the touch of a button is a fear held by many. Within this weird time of non-private media, some will say that “what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone” is a tempting offer.

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