New Safari feature blocks purchase-tracking by ad clicks

New Safari feature blocks purchase-tracking by ad clicks

Apple added a new anti-tracking feature to Safari that prevents one-to-one tracking of users who click an ad on one site and make a purchase on another, unrelated site. Instead, the connection will be blurred so that an advertiser can only track the total impact of a small number of different ads over short periods of time.

The new approach, called Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution, rolled out in the Safari Technology Preview today (version 82), and Apple said that it will appear in general release versions of Safari later in 2019. It’s also presented this as a proposed early-stage standard to the Web Platform Incubator Community Group at the W3C, an organization that helps create standards browser and sites.

In a blog post at the WebKit site, Apple security and privacy engineer John Wilander explained how the dance of advertising site, browser, and ecommerce site will work in some technical detail, intended both to inform sites about coming changes and teach developers how to implement and test the new approach.

This new Safari feature is part of Apple’s effort to differentiate itself on privacy from Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others that have a substantial reliance on broad user tracking as part of their revenue models for ad and product sales. Ads that pinpoint users by age, income, location, and interests take in more money. Making Safari more resistant to user tracking racks up points in the privacy column while also squeezing these other firms’ potential income.

How it works

With this new ad-click attribution model, an advertising site will not be able to attach extensive and unique identifiers in a link nor track a user with cookies. It will also require so-called “first party” links, where the tracking information is entirely fed by the website a user is visiting instead of embedded code or web page portions (called “iframes”) delivered by a third party.

With current ad and user tracking, third-party networks can build extensive profiles about user browsing and buying behavior without ever seeking specific permission from the user. This information is used to shape the ads you see. If you ever wondered why purchasing a multi-pack of facial tissues on one site meant seeing ads for facial tissue on every site you visited for the next two reasons, it’s this cross-site tracking.

In Apple’s model, a potential buyer sees an ad which has one of 64 numbers embedded in it, from 0 to 63, as well as the destination domain noted separately from the link itself. This uniquely identifies the ad for a given advertiser, but doesn’t provide a large-enough number range to ID the user.

If the user clicks the ad, only that destination domain receives that ad code—no cookies are sent and other tracking information gets stripped off.

via Macworld https://www.macworld.com/article/3397141/new-safari-feature-blocks-purchase-tracking-by-ad-clicks.html#tk.rss_all
link : https://www.macworld.com/article/3397141/new-safari-feature-blocks-purchase-tracking-by-ad-clicks.html#tk.rss_all
May 22, 2019 at 08:54PM

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