Apple Delays iPhone Ad Tracking Changes That Rattled Industry

Apple Inc. is delaying a change to its upcoming iOS 14 iPhone software thatFacebook Inc. and other developers have warned would hurt their advertising businesses.

The move, announced in June, requires users to give explicit permission before letting apps track them for advertising purposes. This was due to be implemented this fall with the release of iOS 14. It is now being delayed until early next year, Apple said on Thursday.

Read more:Facebook Says Apple’s Changes to iOS Will Dramatically Hurt Ads

“We want to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes, and as a result, the requirement to use this tracking permission will go into effect early next year,” Apple said in an emailed statement.

Facebook and Apple have dueled publicly for years, with Apple criticizing the social network’s privacy lapses and Facebook hitting back about Apple’s App Store practices and its concessions to Chinese government demands.

The current debate centers on a unique Apple code linked to each device, known as an Identification for Advertisers, or IDFA. App developers have historically used IDFA to help target users with ads and track the performance of ads across different devices.

Apple has been increasing user privacy in recent years and subtly criticized social networks on Thursday with a new TV ad highlighting the issue. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook calls privacy a “human right,” but several recent changes have ramped up tension between Apple and the developers it relies on to make billions of dollars a year in services revenue.

Thursday’s rare course reversal comes as the company faces antitrust scrutiny over its App Store, particularly a 30% fee it charges on many app-related payments and what some developers complain are inconsistently implemented rules.

The company said the device-tracking update will still be implemented when iOS 14 is released, but the delay means it won’t enforce the rule and require developers to adopt it. Apple said it will release more details later this year.

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