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Federighi defends Apple's iOS 14 anti-tracking feature

Craig Federighi

Apple's Craig Federighi says the iOS 14 anti-tracking move is a core Apple value, and expects advertisers' fears will prove unfounded.

Following Apple's statement that it is "fully committed" to its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy feature, the company's Craig Federighi has been backing up the policy. He claims that it is part of what has always been Apple's core values, and that he believes it ultimately won't damage advertisers as much as has been claimed.

"We introduced intelligent tracking prevention, several years ago, and at the time, parts of the ad industry were saying that the sky was going to be falling in and that their business was going to be destroyed by the fact that they couldn't track everyone from website to website to website," he told The Independent in an interview about ATT.

"Well, in fact, if you look at what happened to the industry, that didn't happen at all," he continued, "and yet we also protected user privacy."

He went on to say that over time, the impact will really be that Apple's doing this will prove "better for even the people that are currently, at times, protesting these moves." Federighi argues that with users more in control, the feature increases trust in apps.

The senior vice president of software engineering at Apple also expects that this feature will be taken up by competitors. "Because we've shown customers [that] they should expect those kinds of privacy protections... [they will] start to demand them and the rest of the industry starts to follow," he continued. "And we'd love to see that in many other ways."

According to Federighi, Apple's decision to delay the introduction of ATT until early 2021 was entirely because of technical issues rather than any reconsidering of the policy. Reportedly developers said they had "so much tracking" built in that "we can't live up to" what the user wants when asked to switch it off.

Federighi also argues that Apple has already created SKAdNetwork, an alternative system for providing advertisers with information that does not compromise users. "We created a framework for doing that in a privacy-protecting way," he told The Independent. Apple plans to update this to "improve [advertisers] ability to do effective advertising while preserving privacy, and we want to work technically on solutions to make that more and more effective."