If you’re anything like me, you’re not that keen to be followed. So if an app asks if it can track your iPhone activity across other advertising or data brokerage programs and websites, the answer is almost always ‘no’. If you’re tired of choosing ‘Ask app to track’ over and over, there is a way to stop apps from asking questions at all.
Before we get into the importance of blocking tracking in apps and websites, let’s turn it off system-wide right away. While the setting was available in earlier versions of iOS 14, it was not helpful as developers didn’t have to ask for tracking permission until iOS 1
To stop tracking requests in iOS 14.4 and above, navigate to Settings -> Privacy -> Tracking. Here you’ll see a list of all the apps you’ve given or denied for permissions tracking, and you can enable and disable these apps on an individual basis as needed.
To disable all future requests, turn off the “Allow apps to track requests” switch at the top of this page. With that setting turned off, most apps on your iPhone won’t be able to track (or don’t want to) your activity on other apps and websites.
If you’ve already granted certain app tracking permissions on your iPhone, when you turn off Allow apps to track requests, you’ll be asked if “ You want to ask apps that you’ve previously allowed to track. to stop tracking? ‘ You can click “Ask apps to stop following” or “Allow apps to continue following”, depending on your preference.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about why it’s good to do more than just get rid of annoying popup prompts begging you for permissions.
When an app follows you to other apps and sites, it is because they try to provide you with more targeted ads. They can also measure your responses and actions to ads to adjust how they serve ads. And worst of all, they can share your information with data brokers who use your data and combine it with other information about you to sell as a full package.
Most of the time apps don’t perform that tracking without your permission. So if you block all apps from asking you if they can track you, apps with tracking requests will try to show you that you are being blocked. At the same time, those apps will be informed that you don’t want to be tracked and that they shouldn’t have access to your iPhone’s advertising ID (which was managed through the ad restriction switch in older iOS versions).
Unfortunately, consent is not a hard and fast rule. According to Apple, some apps try to track you without getting your permission first.
In some cases, Apple doesn’t have to ask the app developer for your permission. The app developer may combine information about you or your device for targeted advertising or ad measurement purposes without your consent if the developer only does this on your device and does not transmit the information from your device in a way that identifies you.
In addition, without your consent, the app developer may share information about you or your device with data brokers for fraud detection or prevention or security purposes. However, the data broker may only perform the fraud detection or prevention or security services on behalf of the app developer, which means that the data broker cannot use the information about you or your device for any other purpose.
Those reasons seem understandable as long as the developers and data brokers follow the rules outlined. But somehow you may never know. You should be able to check out the detailed privacy information that developers now have to submit to their apps in the App Store since iOS 14.3, which will give you a good idea of how each app collects data.
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