Europe’s Worries about Apple’s IDFA

macbook pro on brown wooden table

What are Europe’s concerns about advertisers on the Apple platform not obtaining user consent to vital information being shared? Let’s examine both the European society and the government concerns regarding Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and changes to this system that are impacting marketers.

What is an IDFA?

Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) is a unique identifier for mobile devices that Apple assigns to each iPhone and is used for third parties to track and measure users for ad targeting across mobile devices. Giving consent for your activity to be tracked means that the app can allow information about you or your device to be collected. This consent includes your name, email address, home address, or any information you put into a particular app; third parties will likely be able to access the information you’ve given. As a part of the IOS 14 update, Apple announced that it is providing users with an option to block the IDFA identifier at the app level. Because of this, the update requires apps to ask users for permission to collect and share their data. Users have the choice to either opt-in or opt-out when an App is first launched if an IOS user decides to opt-out and not allow tracking, then this will cause Advertisers to be less effective when it comes to Ad Targeting as well as Ad Measurement. It doesn’t mean that the individual user will no longer see ads, but will not see any advertisements that feel so personal to the user.

Example of how advertisers can track across applications: You watch a YouTube Video on a specific hair product, then maybe a few hours later you see an ad on Facebook showing that same product for sale.

What is Apple’s IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) – Release 14.5

RESTRICTIONS within Europe

In Europe, there have been several issues and complaints regarding Apple’s IDFA. The complaints from the German data protection authorities say that the Apple settings of the IDFA breach the regional privacy laws on digital tracking because the IOS users are not asked for their consent to gather and share their private information. On top of them giving consent, it was found that several apps have still shared their IDFA with Facebook. Last year Europes court strengthened the requirement when it was made clear that consent from non-essential tracking must be given prior to storing information from the tracker.

Cookies are also used as a type of data tracking technology. The software you use that has cookies will tell you that you have the option to enable or disable the cookies. Other sites may not even inform you that your site has cookies enabled by default. Europes court states, “While Apple introduced functions in their browser to block cookies, it places similar codes in its phones, without any consent by the user. This is a clear breach of EU privacy laws.” Apple has responded to Europe’s complaint, saying that they are giving users a choice to opt In or out, that their privacy is a fundamental human right, and that they support the European Union in protecting privacy with the laws of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at Noyb, says, “With our complaints, we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal unless a user freely consents. The IDFA should not only be restricted but permanently deleted. Smartphones are the most intimate device for most people and must be tracker-free by default.”

This is an ongoing situation in Europe as Apple will continue to try to accommodate and respect its laws.

How to Avoid third-parties getting access to your private information. 

When downloading a new app on your IOS device, try to avoid allowing the app access to your location settings. If you enable an app to access your tracking or location, try to have it very limited. Most apps that ask for your location give you the option always to have your location on for the app, or for you to have your location on only while you’re using the app. However, it is still an option to just always to have your location off. Unless it’s an app like Snapchat and you like to use the filters to show where you are. This would be a time to have the settings show your location only while you’re using the app. Most of you should know that within the app, you can turn on “Ghost Mode,” so absolutely nobody on Snapchat sees where you are at any given moment. Also, try not always have cookies enabled on your mobile device or computer unless you have to have them enabled to access a particular website.

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