Computer & Technology

Will Apple’s user privacy protection succeed in the long run?

Blocking cross-platform user tracking might not help Apple to improve user privacy in the long term
( | Press Release | 2021-03-07 14:02:28 )
In September Apple launched a revamped version of the iOS operating system, which is expected to be a momentous leap for iPhone user privacy. iOS 14 will require users to deliberately opt in to ad tracking across apps and websites, preventing advertisers from collecting cross-platform user data and delivering targeted offers.

Short-term effect on businesses might be hazardous

“Generally speaking, Apple users will enjoy more privacy by making it harder for advertisers to understand what they are interested in. As a result, users will be served with untargeted ads, which will increase advertisers’ spending,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN

Apple’s decision might hit the world of advertising hard, as this year alone marketers were expected to spend $165bn on mobile ads. Facebook expects to lose half of its income and take away earning opportunities from small businesses, as they won’t be able to reach half of their audience.

Would user privacy win?

In the long run, user privacy is not likely to benefit from the change in Apple’s privacy settings, especially if Apple were to fail to apply the same rules to its own platforms.

“Technology has been moving away from cookies and pixels for a while now. These are the technologies that enable cross-platform tracking for advertising purposes.“

Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, says that “Fingerprinting is considered to be the future of user tracking — not pixels or cookies. What Apple does will benefit user privacy only for a short while.”

Fingerprinting collects those characteristics of a mobile device or computer that are used to optimize apps and websites for different devices. Data, such as screen resolution, operating system, model, language, and even emoji sets, is compiled to make a user’s profile. “This creates a clear picture of who you are, whether you have given permission to collect information about you or not,” adds Daniel Markuson.

This tracking technology is intended to detect and prevent online identity theft and credit card fraud. At the same time, it’s one of the most useful tools for advertisers, as the characteristics of your device can be combined with your browsing history.

“The worst part is that fingerprinting is hard to recognize,” says the digital privacy expert. “The same tracking script running in the background of a website can render videos, photos, and more. Thus, data from your device can be gathered directly through the app without your knowledge.”

Why such a buzz?

Ever since the emergence of social media, users have been trusting it with an enormous amount of personal information. “People tell whom they love or ended a relationship with, and notify the world they are on vacation, letting everyone know that their homes are empty. On top of that, they share their birth date, phone number, and even their home address. We build our online identities by keeping a record of what we like, share, retweet, and comment on,” says Daniel Markuson.

Up until now, users have been served with targeted ads built especially for them. This not only allows advertisers to save money, but also makes ads more relatable and adequate.

Before Cambridge Analytica came to the public’s attention, it seemed that everyone benefited from such a marketing strategy. The company infamously used the data of Facebook users to build profiles and tailor political messages for each user individually, manipulating their political views to benefit their political agenda. Now, 90% of users find targeted ads annoying.

What can internet users do?

Tools like AmIUnique and Panopticlick analyze how unique your browser is. Also, Mozilla has recently introduced its beta version of fingerprinting blocking. Daniel Markuson, the digital privacy expert at NordVPN, gives 3 additional pieces of advice:

App hygiene. Start small by deleting rarely used apps from your mobile device.

Keep private and public separate. Separate your public life from your private one online. Use one browser for your daily activities and another for your private ones. This will prevent advertisers from building a full picture of your digital profile. Also, never reuse usernames, email addresses, or any other private information for your public accounts.

Use a VPN. Although it won’t protect you against fingerprinting, it is a useful tool for keeping your identity secure. A VPN helps you to conceal your IP address, hide your location, and keep your data safe from monitoring. Note that if you use a VPN for both your private and public internet activities, connect to a different server each time.


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information:

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Laura Tyrell

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