Apple defends delay of data privacy feature

Apple is defending the delay of a new feature that would limit user information gathered by advertisers on its devices following criticism from advocacy groups.

The tech giant has pushed back the release of App Tracking Transparency, a feature announced in June that would allow users to opt out of apps tracking them across platforms, and would require apps to ask users for permission before accessing data about them.

Apple announced the feature in June, with initial plans to include it as part of an iOS14 update for users in mid-September, but said shortly beforehand that the anti-tracking component would be delayed until “early next year.” That prompted Ranking Digital Rights and seven other advocacy groups to voice their “disappointment” with Apple in a letter sent to the company last month.

Apple responded on Thursday by saying the delay was to give developers more time to “properly update their systems and data practices,” according to a copy of the letter shared by Ranking Digital Rights.

In its response, Apple also slammed other leading tech companies, namely Facebook, for their ad-tracking practices. Facebook has opposed Apple’s new anti-tracking option.

“Apple engages in privacy preserving first party advertising and doesn’t append or gather data from third party sources. We simply do not need or want to gobble up more and more data in order to deliver an experience that users appreciate. By contrast, Facebook and others have a very different approach to targeting,” Apple’s senior director of global privacy Jane Horvath wrote in the letter.