Apple to remove apps that track users without permission in 2021

Anne Freer | December 11, 2020

App Business

Apple could be removing apps from its App Store that track users without their permission as early as next year.

It’s a move designed to improve privacy for its mobile and app users.

App developers and marketers are using Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) tags right now to track and measure their ad effectiveness.

But the changes mean that app developers will need to ask for permission on iOS to gain access to IDFAs and let’s face it, not many users will be granting permission.

This includes displaying targeted ads based on user data, device location and email lists or device IDs.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, this week confirmed that apps which do not comply would be removed from the App Store.

It’s something Apple calls App Tracking Transparency which has been widely criticised by developers who are worried they’ll be losing out on downloads by no longer being able to target their ads effectively.

Federighi said he was confident that advertisers would adapt and find less invasive ways to track their ad efforts.

Luke Taylor, COO & founder at adtech company TrafficGuard, said:

“A year ago, a privacy prediction might have been more focussed on regulation. Today, we are seeing the tech giants taking the lead on privacy… Once these measures are in place, regulation can almost stand down completely because the tech will make it near impossible to violate related regulations.

The days of targeting users for advertising based on their behaviour and information shared across sites are numbered – this is another nail in that coffin. This will impact the effectiveness of programmatic advertising, it will also impact the sharing of data from publishers to Google and Facebook within their advertising networks.”

Apple previously delayed the rollout until 2021 to give developers more time to adjust.

“As an advertising industry, we’ve done a very poor job of communicating to the end user as to why we’re tracking them, and why this is beneficial. Publishers, advertisers and adtech haven’t done enough to communicate the value exchange of advertising to consumers. While consumers should have the right to decide what is collected, sold and shared about them, they should be making an informed decision. Many people just don’t understand the direct relationship between choice and innovation, and advertising,” Taylor added.


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