Apple gets tough on cross-site trackers


Apple has a warning for unscrupulous firms that are tracking web user activity across multiple sites and domains.

Reporting from CNet shows Apple recently published policy updates that show how the Safari browser will keep parties from tracking users across the net with digital breadcrumb trails that go beyond what has been the traditional practice of using cookies and beacons on-site to augment internal CRM.

“Website publishers and companies that show ads on them can track you from one site to another, creating a profile on your interests intended to show ads more targeted toward your likely interests,” writes Stephen Shankland at CNet.  “But that can significantly impair your privacy, and browsers are starting to crack down … Apple on Wednesday published a policy governing how its Safari browser will block advertisers and websites from tracking you online — and it’s got strong words for anyone who tries to thwart its approach.”

According to Shankland, Apple is not alone – Microsoft and Google are also working on methods to crack down on more extensive tracking in order to protect consumer privacy.

However, “supercookies” and other innovative workarounds (perhaps more extensive cross-domain beacons?) can allow these advertisers and others to keep spying on the common user even if the browser maker itself is against this kind of behavior. Also, reports from sources like Fast Company seem to provide suggestions that while Google, Microsoft and others might crack down on outside tracking behavior, the platforms themselves reserve the right to track users in ways that some, perhaps including the crafters of the new European GDPR, might look at with distaste.

By coming out in the vanguard of enforcement, Apple is hoping to consolidate its reputation as a privacy protector.

Factor that into your FAANG (Facebook-Apple-Amazon-Netflix-Google) portfolio.