Apple users can now decide if they want their app activity to be tracked

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Friday, May 7, 2021
Apple's iOS update allows users to turn off cross-app tracking
For the first time, iPhone and other Apple users will have a say in whether the apps they download can track their online activities.

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KGO) -- For the first time, iPhone and other Apple users will have a say in whether the apps they download can track their online activities. At stake are the targeted ads many of us get.

Anyone who downloads a new app using an Apple device will have a choice to make.

For many of us, smartphones and the apps we use are a way of life. Those apps track our activity and the information compiled is used to determine what ads we get, based on our interests.

Now for the first time, Apple is letting you decide if you want to be tracked.

RELATED: Apple rolls out iPhone privacy feature, cracking down on apps that track users' activity

7 On Your Side spoke to Thomas Germain of Consumer Reports.

"This is not a marketing gimmick. It's kind of hard to overstate how big of a deal this change is," Germain said.

Here's how it works.

The next time you download an app on an Apple device, you'll have two choices: "Ask app not to track" or simply "Allow."

"Allow" would mean you want to be tracked.

RELATED: Is your smartphone listening to you?

Jerry Milenbach of Danville sees the convenience of that.

"If I'm going to Antigua, and it's a brand new place for me, then if something pops up about Antigua, great, that's one step less that I have to do," Milenbach said.

At the same time, he doesn't like someone deciding for him what he sees and what he doesn't. "Give me a choice to do it. Not that you're doing it on their own," he said.

He plans to ask the app not to track him.

A survey by the mobile marketing company Apps Flyer found two-thirds of those surveyed plan to block the tracking.

A conversation on 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney's Facebook page on this topic generated more than 110 comments.

Most seemed to be in favor of blocking the apps from tracking them... although some felt strongly the other way. In either case, it's something people are definitely talking about.

"More and more people are starting to wake up to these privacy concerns and I think it's something that people care about more," said Germain of Consumer Reports.

The Apple policy, however, only goes so far: "This setting only applies to your apps. It doesn't protect you on other parts of the internet and issues like your credit card company sharing information about you."

Apple users who want to utilize this new privacy feature must update to iOS 14.5.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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