The Battle For Online Privacy is Just Beginning

Apple announced its plans to force mobile advertising companies to require consent from the user before being tracked for ad targeting. This massive change was announced as part of Apple’s fresh initiative to push the iPhone and the Apple ‘ecosystem’ towards a more private experience, which saw widespread complaints from tech giants including Facebook, Snapchat, and game-development platform Unity.Each of these companies has major stakes in tracking the users on their platforms, so forcing them to ask users to opt-in could take a serious chunk out of their profit sources. Facebook has already begun experimenting with pop-ups that precede Apple’s own pop-up. Their case goes that allowing tracking on the app will create a better advertising experience, alongside supporting “businesses that rely on ads to reach customers.”

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Other companies that will not necessarily be as impacted as others by the new requirements have also taken action. Google, which dominates web ad serving, has promised to move away from user tracking in search of a just-as, if not more profitable way to serve attractive ads without garnering the poor publicity that comes with crossing the “creepy line” (or the act of targeting users so creepily it becomes uncomforting).

This new sudden battle that has arisen in late-2020, early 2021 is just the beginning. The battle has been on its way for a long time, as users have clamored for a return to a slightly-more private online life. Businesses may have to move away from pure advertising as their main stream of revenue, in addition to the collapse of the online ad market in the latter half of the 2010s.

Many businesses that have become figureheads of power and influence have suddenly been stripped of one of their most powerful tools: their users’ private details. Convincing users to willingly and knowingly give up their private information, even though there may not be much of a penalty for not doing so will be a hard bargain to make. Facebook and these other ad-based companies are not just asking for analytics to help improve the app, they’re asking for people’s personal data in order to keep the lights on.

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