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Apple gives iPhone users an easy way to keep their personal data from being tracked and shared

Apple iPhone software now includes anti-tracking capabilities
Posted at 6:48 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 07:54:38-04

NASHVILLE, Tn. (WTVF) — Apple has a new software update and this one, you're going to want to pay attention to, especially if you'd like more privacy when you're using your phone.

How often have you been looking up something on your phone and then all of a sudden, you start seeing ads for it when your online? That's because when you use your phone, all kinds of data about you is collected and then shared with other companies which use that information to target you with ads. But, if you've got an Apple iPhone, there's now a way for you to stop a lot of this from happening.

When you're on your phone, information about you and what you're doing is generally not private. Everything from your age, location, health information, spending habits, and browsing history, yes, what you're looking up and what apps you're using, is all collected and often shared. That's why some are calling Apple's latest software update a gamechanger.

"It is hard to overstate how big of a deal this really is. I think a lot of consumers don’t really realize the extent to which apps are following what they are doing and buying and selling and sharing information about their behavior," said Thomas Germain, a tech editor with Consumer Reports.

But under Apple's newest iPhone operating system, iOS 14.5, all apps are forbidden from tracking what you do online and sharing that information with others, unless you give them permission.

"Once you have the latest operating system, you will start seeing these pop-ups. Now it is not going to happen immediately because it is up to the apps themselves to decide when they want to show you that prompt. But once you do, it is going to ask you such and such app wants to track your activity and you can choose 'allow' or say that you want to ask the app not to track you. And it is really a simple as that, Germain explained.

And if getting all of those pop-ups is just too much, it's just as easy to tell your phone to say no to all apps automatically.

"You go into your settings, you hit privacy, tap the tracking and you’ll see a little toggle switch that says allow apps to request to track. You switch that off, you’ll never see these prompts and you don’t even have to think about it," Germain suggested.

While this update will mean more privacy for you, advertising insiders say it will likely present new challenges for many tech companies and app developers. Until now, they've made their money by selling your data to advertisers. If enough people block apps from collecting their data, Thomas Germain says we could see fewer apps, or at least fewer free apps.

"It’s possible that you may have to start having to dig out your wallet more often in the long term," Germain added.

Now this doesn't mean ads are going away. But instead of targeted ads based on who you are and what you do online, you’ll probably see more contextual ads, ads based on the content you’re looking at, like an ad for running shoes in a weight loss app.