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Ad industry complains Apple Safari update is 'unilateral and heavy-handed' against tracking

Six ad industry organizations have crafted an open letter complaining about changes coming to Apple's Safari browser, claiming that a new feature — "Intelligent Tracking Prevention" — will hurt both them and the public.

The technology's restrictions on cookies, including a 24-hour limit on ad retargeting, are "opaque and arbitrary" and could impact the "infrastructure of the modern internet," Ad Week quoted the letter as saying. Some of the groups behind the statement include the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the American Advertising Federation, and the Data and Marketing Association.

"Apple's unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love," the letter says. "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. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice."

Intelligent Tracking Prevention will be present in both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, launching Sept. 19 and 25, respectively. Apple has argued for the technology as an essential privacy measure, since people may not want their data captured for purposes they don't consent to.

While many websites including AppleInsider are dependent on advertising, some people have become uncomfortable with the precision targeting of ad networks across unrelated pages. A person looking to propose, for instance, might see engagement ring ads on Spotify, even though they weren't searching for marriage-themed songs.