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With iOS 14.5, Apple shifts peeping apps fight to the OS

Richi Jennings Your humble blogwatcher, dba RJA

Pay attention: An important trend is hiding amid the fluff and froth of a fanciful “feud” twixt Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg. Ignore the tech soap opera—you need to get ahead of the changes, so read on.

People’s perception of privacy is changing. Apps such as Facebook can’t get away with selling or combining user data any longer—or, at least, that’s the way the wind’s blowing.

And iOS 14.5 is part of the reason. In this week’s Security Blogwatch, we finally cut through the fish-eyed lens of tear-stained eyes. [You’re fired—Ed.]

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: 50memes.

F vs. A—what about the ANG?

What’s the craic? Mike Isaac and Jack Nicas report—For Apple and Facebook Chiefs, Privacy Dispute Is Public Feud:

In July 2019 … Mr. Zuckerberg asked Mr. Cook how he would handle the fallout from … Cambridge Analytica. … Mr. Cook responded acidly that Facebook should delete any information that it had collected, [said] people with knowledge of the conversation. … Cook was in effect telling Mr. Zuckerberg that his business was untenable. … Zuckerberg was stunned.

Two years later, [their] opposing positions have exploded into an all-out war. On Monday, Apple released a new privacy feature that requires iPhone owners to explicitly choose whether to let apps like Facebook track them across other apps.

Apple said, “We simply believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used.” Facebook said Apple’s feature was … about profit: “Free, ad-supported services have been essential to the growth and vitality of the internet, but Apple is trying to rewrite the rules in a way that benefits them.”

Yikes. Sara Morrison calls it the nuclear option to opt out of tracking:

iOS 14.5 went live today with a highly anticipated, long-awaited privacy feature the company first announced way back in June 2020: App Tracking Transparency. But you might not notice it.

Apps will have to ask users for their permission to access Apple’s Identifier for Advertising (IDFA), a unique code assigned to mobile devices. Data brokers and ad marketers use [it] to track users … combining their behavior into one … profile, which companies then use to send targeted ads.

Except so far, it’s a damp squib, according to Rory Cellan-Jones’ Analysis:

Like millions of iPhone users I downloaded iOS 14.5 last night and waited to find out what Apple's brave new world of freedom from tracking looked like. But nothing happened … nada, zilch. … No alerts from the hundreds of apps I have installed, asking me to agree to tracking.

It seems that even if that is switched on, tracking stays off until the apps themselves push out a request screen inviting you to accept it. Facebook says it is in the process of pushing out its screen - preceded by another one, explaining why tracking is a good thing and has helped to keep many small businesses afloat.

Good thing? Bad thing? DinkThifferent doesn’t sit on the fence:

I am 100000000000% behind Apple on this one. Facebook (and … Twitter) are absolutely ruining society. Fake news, trolling, massive data leaks, ultra data hungry, Cambridge Analytica and severe negative political influence is just the tip of the iceberg but already reason enough to DELETE. YOUR. ACCOUNT.

Meh. People still Facebook? Or so shrugs zeeshanqureshi:

I've been off all Social platforms for almost a decade now. And, no matter how much I try and convince my close friends and relatives to do the same, it doesn't work.

It is almost like asking people to give up on coffee. You could probably get them to replace it with something else but you cannot remove it from their lives. It is all about filling the void.

However, Comboman calls it a “False Dichotomy”:

Certainly there should be more options than "expose yourself to the world on Facebook" or "be a prisoner in Apple's walled garden."

Yes, but H2O Rip pours cold water on the idea:

At this point Facebook is synonymous with algorithmically boosted nonsense. Almost instinctively if I see a screenshot of a FB post shared—or it used as a 'where I got this'—I take it with a grain of salt, if I even bother reading.

But muh pryvahsee!!1 Here’s Snark218’s estimate of how much Zuckerberg cares:

Zuck has the personality of a tortilla and the personal style of the guy who lived in the dorm next to you who you don't even remember. It's not that he's evil in some implausible way or that his goals are wildly grandiose, it's that he's [got] no soul, no scruples, no philosophy, and no ability to empathize with anyone who does.

Harsh. nicolaiplum is slightly more nuanced:

Facebook doesn't have to conduct pervasive surveillance of its users to make money. Facebook does have to conduct pervasive surveillance of its users to make a lot of money.

Meanwhile, rognjen has this pragmatic solution:

This is my main quibble with people who are shocked at what Facebook and Reddit do with their data. These companies can't do anything with your data if you don't give them any.

The moral of the story:

Can you feel it? That’s the wind changing. If your business model relies on selling users’ data, perhaps it’s untenable.

And finally

#27 is my favorite—which is yours?

Hat tip: Lori Dorn

Previously in “And finally”

You have been reading Security Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.

This week’s zomgsauce: Satish Krishnamurthy (cc:by)

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