During the inaugural keynote of WWDC 2018, Apple unveiled new measures to put Facebook and other data-devouring companies in check. With them, the company led by Tim Cook aims to put limits on the data traffic of its users around the world. A business that has proved to be a huge danger to society after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
New functions against the collection of Facebook data
Craig Federighi left the privacy protection measures of macOS Mojave users almost to the end. Specifically, the head of software for iOS and macOS said that some companies used three methods to track users across the web:
- Share buttons on social networks and I like it.
- Sections of comments on articles managed by social networks.
- Fingerprinting, a technique that consists of seeing what plugins, sources and other parameters a team has to assign a same identity while browsing.
All these methods do not require intervention by the user to function. They track you by just visiting a website that uses them. The funny thing is that to show the first two points, Apple used images of likes and comments sections of Facebook. Which is not a coincidence.
Here you can see a Facebook comment section where the Safari alert against crawling appears.
Facebook and other companies use these measures to follow a user throughout the web. This allows them to repeat ads that they have already seen or know when a user has made the purchase of a product they have seen advertised. They are fundamental techniques to be able to evaluate the impact of the announcements before the advertiser and thus be able to charge according to the value contributed.
However, these measures end up abusing the reader, constantly chasing and bombarding him, becoming a nuisance. With macOS Mojave, the user who visits a website that contains one of these tracking methods will receive an alert upon entering and before these elements are loaded. macOS will ask the Internet user if he wants to allow this tracking by “facebook.com” and if he rejects it, he will block and obfuscate these methods of identification and tracking .
Apple as a “champion” of the interests of its users
These alerts only occur the first time you enter that website. Its intention is to educate the user of what happens when he enters it and how this can affect his own privacy while browsing. This is a way to make visible the invasion techniques of privacy of some companies so that the user acts accordingly on his own, instead of Apple deciding for him (for the time being). According to a report provided by the firm CCS Insight to Applesfera:
[these measures] support Apple’s efforts to differentiate its products. […] In addition, if hundreds of millions of Apple devices receive a security alert every time they visit popular websites, it will increase the consumer’s awareness of the data that is captured.
However, showing this dialog could be a nuisance for the user and may end up disabling the functionality. Surfing the internet already has many obstacles today (notice of cookies, GDPR, subscriptions, etc.), as to add one more even for a good cause. This is why Apple could abandon the alert and block this tracking by default.
These new measures refute the doubts of the New York Times article published the Sunday before the keynote. According to the Times, up to 60 device manufacturers reached agreements with Facebook to receive data from their users. Immediately after the keynote, Tim Cook flatly rejected this information saying that “we have not requested user data nor have we received it.” Zero “What we did was integrate the possibility of sharing photos from the operating system.”
And the company has shown it. In recent years, Apple has been tightening the screws against Google, Facebook and company. Last summer, Apple announced a system called Intelligent Tracking Prevention that blocks the user’s tracking outside the web that initiates it. Both in iOS Safari and macOS. And the advertising companies announced shortly afterwards that this measure was impacting their business enormously.
As an added bonus, iOS 11 eliminated the integration of Facebook, Twitter and other web services from the operating system that Cook previously mentioned. This year they have repeated play with macOS Mojave.
What is clear is that Apple is not going to sit still while some practices boggle the experience of its users on the web. If the company can do something about it, it will take action on the matter.