Apple explains how data trackers turn your life into profit
In yet another shot across the bows of surveillance capital, Apple has broken silence once again, exposing yet more data most people don’t know much about concerning how targeted ads and data auctions actually work.
A Day in the Life of your Data
Apple published the first Day in the Life of your Data report in January. Now, as it prepares to introduce App Tracking Transparency tools, it’s back with part two, this time focused on ads, ad auctions and ad attributions.
The story this time talks about a man taking his daughter out for the day at the playground, and begins with this famous Steve Jobs quote concerning privacy:
“I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.”
The story explains how after a day in the park the man unwittingly shares a huge amount of personal data. It looks at ads tracking, posting an image on a social network, and more.
All this data is picked up and added to a vast trove of information concerning the man, including email address and more. All this activity takes place across a plethora of apps.
Why do they need this information?
“At the end of the day, a number of companies John has never interacted with, all around the world, have updated their profiles with information about him and his daughter,” Apple explains.
“These companies know the location of the family’s house, the park they visited, the news websites they read, the products they browsed, the ads they watched, their purchasing habits, and the stores they visited.”
The report explains how the $227 billion a year data industry works, sharing useful insights such as use of trackers, data brokers and the like. One data broker, it reveals, collects data on over 700 million consumers worldwide, building detailed customer profiles.
Apple focuses on the advantages it provides its customers: data minimization, on-device processing, user controls and highly secure platforms.
“We employ on-device intelligence and other features to minimize the data that we collect in our apps, browsers, and online services, and we do not create a single comprehensive user data profile across all of our apps and services,” the company says.
Apple also explains how use of its own solutions would protect the story protagonist from data intrusion, and also explains how App Tracking Transparency will work. “Apple will continue to develop innovative privacy technologies and work on new ways to keep your personal information safe.”
Apple’s approach to privacy is of growing importance in our increasingly connected world.
“There’s probably more information about you on your phone than there is in your house,” Apple CEO Tim Cook once said. “Our smartphones are loaded with our intimate conversations, our financial data, our health records. They’re also loaded with the location of our kids in many cases.”
“Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it. We’re here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom,” he also said.
More privacy tips
- How to stay as private as possible on the Mac
- How to stay as private as possible on Apple’s iPad and iPhone