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Apple considers delay of iOS 14 privacy feature after ad industry backlash

Credit: Apple

Apple has reportedly told some developers that it plans to delay the enforcement of an iOS 14 privacy feature that has stirred controversy among advertisers and publishers.

The iOS 14 feature would require that users opt-in to aggregate ad tracking on an app-by-app basis. Companies that rely on advertising, from Facebook to news publishers, have raised concerns that it could significantly reduce ad revenue.

In the wake of those concerns, The Information on Thursday reported that Apple has told some developers that it plans to delay the enforcement of the pro-privacy feature.

The feature in question concerns Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a random device identifier that allows advertisers to track aggregate data on users without revealing identifiable information.

In iOS 14, Apple will require users to specifically tap a prompt to "allow tracking" across apps and websites owned by other companies. That data allows advertisers to target personalized ads toward users, though many experts and ad industry officials believe that most users will opt out when faced with the prompt.

According to The Information's report, a delay in enforcement could mean that users won't see the prompt for some time after installing iOS 14 on their devices. Instead, the opt-in feature could arrive sometime in 2021.

Although positioned a pro-privacy endeavor, the feature has drawn ire from European ad officials and other tech giants like Facebook.

Facebook, for example, has said that the feature could lead to a 50% drop in advertising revenue on iPhone and iPad. Digital news publishers and media outlets are also "bracing" for a sizable drop in ad revenue, since advertisers pay less for ads that aren't personalized ads.