Apple Will Ban Apps That Force Users To Enable Tracking

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Two iPhones
iPhone 12 Mini beside an iPhone 12. Image credit: Apple.

Apple has released iOS 14.5, and one of its most significant features is App Tracking Transparency (ATT). ATT requires app vendors to ask users for permission before tracking their activity across multiple apps. This mirrors efforts in many countries to pass laws requiring consent for data collection.

However, such laws have been circumvented by telling users to accept their data collection practices, or else they won’t be allowed to use the apps. This puts users in an awkward position for multiple reasons, as many of these apps are monopolies or dominant in their respective industries. Today’s monopolies have made users feel less ‘in-control’ of their devices, and have been bullying them into accepting whatever it is that they’re doing.

If all your friends and family are on Facebook, what can you do? Apple’s ATT is one of the extremely rare cases where a monopoly (in Apple’s case, an app store monopoly) is used to do good deeds. Apple’s terms forbid app vendors from coercing or forcing users to accept cross-app tracking, and will likely ban them for doing so.

This is probably the single most important thing Apple could do to make ATT work, otherwise the majority of large app vendors would just force users to accept it. App vendors are also prohibited from incentivizing acceptance. Service providers and app vendors have a history of bullying users, so it’s good to see Apple ‘bully’ (as some would say) them in return.