iOS Updates: Data Privacy Laws Part II

Part II of our “Changing Data Privacy Laws” Series. Click here to read Part I.

As per reports from Statista, Apple iOS holds 25% of mobile operating systems worldwide, second to Android, accounting for the vast majority of the mobile OS with a 70% share. In the US, however, Apple iOS holds more than 50% market share, making iOS users essential to consumer data companies. How are these companies adapting to iOS Updates and Data Privacy Laws?

It has become a challenge for consumer data companies to collect and hold iOS user data. Apart from the major iOS update released every year, there are frequent, sometimes continuous updates being made to iOS. With each update, data collection becomes an arduous task that requires lots of access and verifications.

Recent reports depict that e-mail marketing is the most used and most successful data collection strategy used by consumer insights or data companies. However, most of the new features added during iOS updates usually affect the effectiveness of e-mail marketing.

For instance, the latest iOS 15 update comes with many new features that are detrimental to consumer data companies as it becomes more challenging for them to personalize advertisements in their marketing strategy. Some of the new features that make accurate data collection more difficult are:

  • App Privacy Report

This update gives more transparency to users over data privacy and access to a detailed app privacy report through the app privacy report icon. When turned on, the app privacy report icon allows users to see how other apps access and use their data. 

This new update allows users to control what types of data they share. Moreover, they can record details about how apps use that data and revoke an app’s permission if they feel it is accessing their data in a way they don’t like. 

Since the data used by these data companies are primarily third-party data derived from consumers’ online activities, this update has become a significant setback to consumer insights companies.

  • Mail Privacy Protection

Another update that hinders the effective collection of consumer data is the mail privacy protection option. It is possible to enable or disable mail privacy protection. When enabled, it hides the user’s IP address so that mail senders, in this case, consumer data companies, are unable to link the user’s online activity, discover their location, or determine whether or not the user has opened their e-mails.

Asides from not knowing whether or not a user opened their e-mails, certain e-mail marketing features used by consumer data companies, such as auto-sending a follow-up e-mail to those who do not open the mails, become less accurate and unreliable. 

Although mail protection privacy prevents data consumer companies from knowing whether or not their emails are actually opened, it doesn’t affect the total number of clicks the e-mail should have.

It is important to note that the mail privacy protection update doesn’t disallow data collection companies from getting the total number of mail recipients. However, they may need to segment the data based on predictive data buying cycles or other means.

  • App Data Tracking

In previous versions of iOS, apps could track users across other apps and browsers. For instance, an app can send a user some ads while using another app. This is done through the app transparency icon. However, with the recent updates made to iOS, it is now possible for users to decline this access and limit an app’s access to track them. 

When an app is newly installed on these latest iOS devices, users are asked if they’d like to permit the newly installed app to track their activities and send them ads or not. Unfortunately, this is another iOS update that hampers how consumer data companies collect accurate data.

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