Apple Criticized for Not Adopting Universal ‘Do Not Track’ Feature for Safari

Image: Apple

According to Wired, there’s a universal “Do not track me or sell my personal data” button for all websites across the internet that some privacy-focused internet browsers have started to incorporate, but Apple, a longstanding and outspoken proponent of user privacy, hasn’t.

In 2018, the state of California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), giving Californians the right to ask any website on the internet not to track them or sell their personal data, and binding websites and business to honor that request.

The execution of those rights was less than ideal, however — users had to click through various privacy policies and cookie notices on every single website, and there was no universal opt-out button for the entire internet.

Until last fall, when a coalition of companies, nonprofits, and publishers developed and release a technical specification for a global privacy control (GPC) that can be embedded into a browser or device and is designed to automatically send a CCPA-enforceable “Do not track” signal across the internet.

Regulations issued by California’s attorney general in 2020 explicitly stated that businesses would have to honor a universal signal sent by the GPC, just as they would a manual request made by an individual. Californians can now make use of the global privacy control by using a privacy-focused browser like Brave, or downloading a privacy extension like DuckDuckGo or Privacy Badger for the whatever browser they’re using.

The option is currently only available to residents of California, and can only be enforced against companies doing business in the state. However, it is starting to look like other U.S. states will soon follow suit — Colorado, for example, has already committed to making businesses start honoring the GPC by 2024.

Despite wanting a privacy-first web, Google hasn’t shown any signs of embracing this new technology. A spokesperson for Mozilla said that the company is “looking into the global privacy control and actively considering next steps in Firefox”.

Apple, which exacts a premium on its users for the privacy it offers and left all of the ad-targeting birds of prey with ruffled feathers after launching the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework earlier this year, is yet to jump on this seemingly straightforward path to user privacy on browsers.

Apple may just be waiting to see if GPC gains any significant traction, or if it becomes enforceable by law in a larger percentage of its consumer market.

Whether the iPhone maker is even considering bringing GPC (or, knowing Apple, its own version of the tech) to Safari or iOS currently remains unknown, but some users may not take kindly to the company seemingly turning a blind eye to an easily implemented privacy-first feature while touting user privacy as a core focus of its products.

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