Massive change in new iPhone update
A massive update to Apple's iPhone software has dropped that will make it difficult for Facebook and other apps to track your data in the background.
iOS 14.5 arrived on Monday and comes with App Tracking Transparency that will enhance the privacy settings for the company's billion iPhone users.
Until now, Facebook and other apps have been able to mine data from iPhones if users had not changed their settings to prevent it, which very few people did.
But once the software update is installed, all apps - even those already on the device - will be required to ask and receive consent to track your online activity.
Unless you give explicit permission to an app (including those made by Apple), it can't use your data for targeted ads, share your location data with advertisers or share your advertising ID or any other identifiers with third parties.
"Now is a good time to bring this out, both because of because of the increasing amount of data (users) have on their devices, and their sensitivity (about the privacy risks) is increasing, too," Erik Neuenschwander, Apple's chief privacy engineer, told reporters.
Apple's iOS 14.5 also includes a whopping 50 security fixes, with one already being exploited by cyber criminals.
The fixes in iOS 14.5 are the fourth major security update released by Apple since the start of the 2021.
The vulnerabilities fixed in iOS 14.5 include an issue with WebKit Storage, where processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution.
The vulnerability is called Remote Code Execution which an attacker would be able to execute commands on your device, effectively having full control over your iPhone.
iOS 14.5 was delayed for seven months as a bitter dispute erupted between Apple and Facebook.
Online tracking has long helped Facebook and thousands of other apps gather information about users' interests and habits so they can display customised ads.
Facebook executives initially acknowledged Apple's changes would probably reduce its revenue by billions of dollars annually.
It launched a vicious campaign that included a series of newspaper ads in which Facebook blasted Apple abusing power in a move designed to force more apps to charge for their services instead of relying on ads.
Apple takes a 15 to 30 per cent cut on most payments processed through an iPhone app.
Apple responded in a number of ways, including chief executive Tim Cook suggesting Facebook's algorithm that collects personal information and adjusts content accordingly could be contributing to the growth of extremist ideologies online.
"What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in lifesaving vaccinations?" Cook asked. "What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users join extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends more?"
Originally published as Massive change in new iPhone update