We all know that the tech industry collects data about us from the devices we use, like our cellphones. Though we've learned to live with this invasion of our privacy, it’s not without risks.
To help remedy the problem, Apple has just launched a new privacy setting promising to let consumers take control of the personal information they share.
"I think a lot of consumers don't realize the extent to which their apps are tracking their behavior and sharing that data with other companies," said Consumer Reports tech editor Thomas Germaine. "But now with this new iPhone privacy setting, there's a really easy way for you to put a stop to that."
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The new tracking setting is being implemented in the newest iPhone operating system, iOS 14.5. It requires apps to ask iPhone users for permission before collecting and sharing data for targeted advertising.
"Once you update your operating system, you'll start seeing these pop ups in your apps that say 'such and such app wants to track you. Do you want to allow it?' That's pretty much all you need to do," said Germaine.
According to Consumer Reports, that's a big shift in the way mobile apps collect data on their users, and it promises to cut off a key way consumer data is monetized on the Apple platform.
"Apple says that if any app gets caught breaking the rules, they might get thrown out of the App Store, which is about as severe a consequence as a developer could face," said Germaine. "This is actually causing an earthquake in the tech industry and disrupting the business models of all kinds of different companies."
Tech experts say it's one of the biggest changes seen to protect consumer privacy, and could be part of a bigger shift from tech companies to give customers more control and choice over what happens to their personal information.