Apple defends new ad-tracking prevention measures in Safari

Apple isn’t backing down from a new approach that limits how web visitors can be tracked by online advertisers.

The new feature in Safari, called Intelligent Tracking Prevention, was first announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. It incorporates a number of different ways that Apple is trying to cut back on ad-tracking, for example by limiting the use of cookies for ad retargeting to 24 hours, and deleting a site’s cookies entirely if you don’t visit for 30 days.

Earlier this week, six advertising trade groups (including the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the American Association of Advertising Agencies) released an open letter criticizing Apple’s strategy as “opaque and arbitrary.”

“Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” the groups wrote.

Apple response? Well, it sounds like the company’s moving forward with its plans and defending them as the right approach for consumer privacy. Here’s a company statement:

Apple believes that people have a right to privacy – Safari was the first browser to block third-party cookies by default and Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a more advanced method for protecting user privacy.

Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private. The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit. Cookies for sites that you interact with function as designed, and ads placed by web publishers will appear normally.