Apple and Facebook fight over who’s breaching your personal privacy more


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Apple’s Jane Horvath calls out Facebook for its information personal privacy mishandlings.

Angela Lang / CNET

A letter from Apple’s personal privacy chief on Thursday began the business’s newest clash with Facebook, with both tech giants implicating each other of stopping working to secure your information correctly. As Apple takes a position on personal privacy as one of its core marketing worths, Facebook and its marketers have actually been changing for the fallout. 

In a letter to supporters from companies like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the Open Technology Institute, Apple’s personal privacy chief, Jane Horvath, called out Facebook for its information collection practices, arguing the business does not appreciate individuals’s personal privacy. 

“Facebook executives have made it clear their intent is to collect as much data as possible across both first- and third-party products to develop and monetize detailed profiles of their users, and this disregard for user privacy continues to expand to include more of their products,” Horvath stated. 

The letter was a reaction to an Oct. 7 require Apple to execute its anti-tracking procedures presented in June faster. 

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed a number of brand-new personal privacy updates for iOS, consisting of a function called App Tracking Transparency that would need individuals to allow for apps to take their information instead of having it turned over by default. 

The upgrade threatened to root out a number of ad-tracking functions in apps, consisting of Facebook. The business cautioned in an article in August that the upgrade would imply less revenue for marketers since of less reliable tracking. 

In September, Apple chose to postpone the function’s rollout to 2021 so designers might have more time to make needed modifications. 

“We established [App Tracking Transparency] for a single factor: since we share your issues about users being tracked without their permission and the bundling and reselling of information by marketing networks and information brokers,” Horvath stated in the Nov. 19 letter. 

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Facebook isn’t buying Apple’s explanation. 

In its response to Apple’s letter, Facebook is accusing Apple of using data privacy as a cover for market dominance in the advertising world. That accusation doesn’t just come from Silicon Valley. During a hearing on tech monopolies in July, lawmakers also criticized Apple for using privacy as an argument to hurt competitors. 

“They are using their dominant market position to self-preference their own data collection while making it nearly impossible for their competitors to use the same data,” Facebook said in a statement. “They claim it’s about privacy, but it’s about profit.” 

Apple is projected to make up to $11 billion in advertising by 2025, though its core revenue still comes from its App Store and devices. Google also allegedly pays Apple $8 billion to $12 billion to be the default search engine on iPhones, as a huge benefit to the advertising giant. 

Apple collects data on its iOS users through an identifier called IDFA, which creates a unique ID for your device for advertisers. Third-party trackers like Facebook can use this to target ads based on your browsing activity, which is why it can sometimes feel like tech giants are listening in on your conversations. 

Advocates argue that Apple’s IDFA violates privacy rights, and organizations like Mozilla called on Apple to reset the identifiers every month by default to limit tracking.    

App Tracking Transparency essentially guts IDFA, since ad trackers now will have to get permission every time they want to get your data on apps. Studies show that the majority of users don’t change their privacy settings, so what you get by default is what most people will experience. 

Apps were taking millions of people’s information by default, and will now need consent to do it, threatening the business model for advertising companies. 

Facebook argued that Apple’s track record on privacy isn’t perfect either — pointing at vulnerabilities it’s experienced like a FaceTime flaw that allowed people to listen in on conversations even when the recipient hasn’t picked up the call yet. 

Facebook Messenger recently patched a similar vulnerability through its bug bounty program.

At CES in January, Apple’s Horvath and Facebook privacy chief Erin Egan spoke on a panel on data privacy. The message from Facebook during the panel was that the social network was just as good at protecting privacy as Apple was.  

In Facebook’s response to Apple’s letter on Thursday, the social network had a similar argument: Apple is just as bad as everyone else. 

“They enforced against our internal business apps to change the topic,” Facebook said in its statement. “Sadly, we’re not perfect and it worked.”

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