Advertising trade associations are concerned about the Safari 11 browser update that Apple plans to release, as it overrides and replaces existing user-controlled cookie preferences with Apple's own set of standards for cookie handling.
During Apple's latest WWDC event, the company said that Sierra's Safari web browser will have something called "Intelligent Tracking Prevention," which uses machine learning to identify ad tracking behavior. Specifically, it'll stop you from being tracked by advertisers as you go from site to site. Advertisers are not too happy about this, and a group of them have come forward to condemn the company for its "unilateral and heavy-handed approach" to user privacy.
The 4A's, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Network Advertising Alliance, have released an open letter outlining their concerns.
"We are deeply concerned about the Safari 11 browser update that Apple plans to release, as it overrides and replaces existing user-controlled cookie preferences with Apple's own set of opaque and arbitrary standards for cookie handling," the letter reads.
"The infrastructure of the modern Internet depends on consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies, so digital companies can innovate to build content, services, and advertising that are personalized for users and remember their visits. Apple's Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the Internet."
The advertisiers claim that blocking cookies in this manner "will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful."
They strongly encourage Apple to "rethink its plan to impose its own cookie standards and risk disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today's digital content and services."
Apple is convinced that it's doing the best it can for users. In a statement, the company says: "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."
The company further states: "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."
Google is also fighting back against ads with the introduction of a Chrome ad-blocker in early 2018, which should have Chrome users see fewer pop-ups and auto-playing videos. Yet, the Chrome ad-blocker doesn't block all ads.