Safari Browser Updates Prompt Ad Industry Concerns
The next version of Apple’s Safari browser has drawn the advertising industry’s ire with default privacy settings that will warn users when a website is collecting tracking data and implementing measures that will making digital fingerprinting techniques—how users are recognized via device and browser data as they move across the internet—less effective.
Apple’s updated Safari will present simplified system information when users browse the web, preventing them from being tracked based on their system configuration. The application already blocked ad networking and third-party cookies by default, and an update introduced last year deleted some publishers’ cookies after 30 days. Privacy advocates have long warned against digital fingerprinting and other tracking technologies that are difficult for consumers to control.
In an open letter, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Network Advertising Initiative have spoken out against the software changes, noting that the updates will damage the consumer experience online and undercut the economic model that provides ad-supported content and services.
“This new set of changes will further erode advertisers’ ability to reach their customers with relevant advertising, chopping away at the economic model that subsidizes digital services and content for consumers. Moreover, Apple’s changes reduce the effectiveness of established tools for consumer control by interfering with their functionality and may also jeopardize the security tools used to stop criminals and fraud.”
The ad industry organizations note that weakening the economic model behind a free internet will drive content and services to paid applications and websites, and that many security systems and anti-fraud tools use these same identifiers to protect consumers.