Apple attacks data brokers in new ad campaign

Apple has launched a new ad campaign attacking data brokers and the vast amounts of personal information they collect and sell.

Data brokers collect information about people, aggregate it, and resell it to businesses, including advertisers. This practice has been widely criticized in recent years, particularly in a famous segment of Jon Oliver.

The marketing campaign is the latest in a string of combative ads by the company, which in recent years has taken aim at Facebook and others for how they collect user information.

The ads seek to steer Apple away from these practices and highlight how iPhones are built to minimize the amount of data people can collect about people who use them.

He highlights tools like App Tracking Transparency, a feature that forces apps to ask for explicit permission before tracking user activity across different websites. This was introduced in 2020 before being rolled out last year – and was immediately criticized by companies such as Facebook, who argued that such data collection is essential to their business.

It also points to protection against features such as Email Privacy Protection, which prevents companies from seeing how often and when an email is opened; encryption in iMessage to protect message content; and more.

In the ad, a person uses these and other features to make data brokers who collect information disappear.

Apple has been criticizing data brokers for some time. In April 2021, it published a white paper titled “A Day in the Life of Your Data”, which aimed to show how personal information is collected and used, and included industry critiques.

“Over the past decade, a vast and opaque industry has amassed increasing amounts of personal data. A complex ecosystem of websites, apps, social media companies, data brokers, and ad-tech firms track users online and offline, harvesting their personal data,” he writes.

“This data is collected, shared, aggregated and used in real-time auctions, fueling a $227 billion-a-year industry. It happens every day, as people go about their daily lives, often without their knowledge or permission.