Wed, Jun 06, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Apple ups privacy controls in spat with Facebook

CRACKING DOWN:Updates to Apple’s Safari Web browser would make it more difficult for social networks to collect user data and for advertisers to create a user ‘fingerprint’


Apple Inc executives rarely call out Facebook Inc, but they made more moves on Monday to limit the social network’s data collection.

In iPhone, iPad, and Mac software updates later this year, Apple’s default Safari Web browser is to show a pop-up window asking users for permission before loading share buttons from social networks including Facebook.

These buttons make it easy to share Web content, but they also let social networks collect user data — something that Apple has been cracking down on in recent years.

This would also apply to tools such as like buttons and the comment sections of social networks, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi demonstrated during a presentation at the company’s annual developer conference.

Apple also showcased a new system that makes it more difficult to gather information about users as they browse across the Web. When people visit sites, the characteristics of their device can be used by advertisers to create a “fingerprint” to track them.

The changes are not Apple’s most expansive in the privacy space, simply an evolution. Last year, the company launched an Intelligent Tracking system that makes it more difficult for advertisers to follow users around the Web.

Still, Monday’s announcements are another step in a brewing spat with Facebook over privacy and data collection concerns.

While Facebook was not mentioned during Monday’s keynote, Apple has recently criticized the social network operator. Lax policies around sharing data with third parties led to the leak of Facebook user information to consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook in March said he “wouldn’t be in this situation” if he were in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes.

The Facebook CEO called the criticism “extremely glib.”

Earlier this year, Apple added a new privacy panel to its operating systems, explaining in plain language why, how, and what data is collected from Apple devices by specific applications.

While Facebook generates revenue from ads targeted with detailed information about users, Apple makes most of its money by selling hardware products.

The New York Times on Sunday reported that Facebook struck deals with device manufacturers, including Apple, that gave them access to information on users and their friends without their explicit consent.

Facebook said the pacts were designed to help device makers create their own versions of Facebook apps, and the data mostly remained on phones that accessed it.

Apple in 2012 publicly discussed this Facebook integration with its iOS 6 operating system update for iPhones and iPads. The company in 2013 added a similar Twitter integration a year earlier, in iOS 5, and support for LinkedIn and Vimeo with iOS 7.

The integration let users speed up logins to their social-media accounts via a menu in the iOS settings app. IPhone users also had the option to synchronize their contacts with Facebook and Twitter.

Apple last year removed those features for all four companies with iOS 11.

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