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Apple Safari to Block Google Analytics From Collecting Data

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Apple’s latest version of macOS contains an updated version of the Safari browser that blocks trackers, including Google Analytics, from collecting user data.

The new version of macOS, called “Big Sur,” was announced this week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). During the announcement Apple previewed Safari’s new privacy report feature.

Safari’s privacy report will list all trackers blocked by the browser on the website a user is currently visiting.

If you weren’t looking closely you may have missed it, but Apple specifically shows Google Analytics being blocked by Safari.

Here’s a screenshot from a press release Apple published yesterday:

Apple Safari to Block Google Analytics From Collecting Data

As you can see, the new version of Safari blocks other popular trackers such as DoubleClick, Amazon, and Optimizely.

Apple is touting Safari’s privacy features as a major selling point of the new browser.

“Privacy has always been built into Safari, and a new Privacy Report delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web.

Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with, and tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information — not even to Apple.”

Apple is even going to let users of macOS Big Sur add a privacy report widget to their desktop for easy access at any time.

The privacy report widget contains a comprehensive list of all trackers blocked in the past seven days.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

This change spells potential bad news for marketers and site owners, especially if a significant amount of their visitors use the Safari browser.

Losing data is never a good thing though, regardless of how much of a site’s audience uses Safari.

It’s a particularly valuable set of data when it comes to analyzing how Mac users engage with a website compared to users on other operating systems.

The silver lining is this update is only coming to the desktop version of Safari, which holds less that half the market share of mobile Safari.

Related: Safari Announces Full 3rd Party Cookie Blocking

Safari Market Share – Desktop vs. Mobile

As of May 2020, Safari holds 9.4% of desktop browser market share worldwide.

Apple Safari to Block Google Analytics From Collecting Data

That number is slightly higher when looking at United States data where Safari holds 15.6% of the desktop market.

Apple Safari to Block Google Analytics From Collecting Data

Many fewer people use Safari than Chrome, but Safari’s market share is not insignificant by any means. It’s still the second-most popular desktop web browser.

This update to Safari would have a much greater impact if it were rolled out to the mobile browser, however, as mobile Safari holds 24.4% market share world wide.

That number is over twice as high in the United States, where Safari is currently the most popular mobile web browser with a whopping 55% market share.

Blocking Google Analytics on mobile Safari would be an enormous hit to marketers’ data – but let’s not worry about that until we have to.

What Does This Mean for Advertising?

Apple has been on a push toward a more private browsing experience well before it’s latest announcement.

The company’s efforts to block trackers thus far has resulted in a 60% decrease in pricing for targeted Safari ads.

As Apple expands its tracker blocking capabilities in Safari, ads will become even harder to target which will likely drive the price down even further.

While that may benefit ad buyers, lower prices for ads means less money earned by websites publishing those ads.

Not to mention blocking trackers makes it challenging for advertisers to reach their intended audience.

Time will tell to what extent this change affects marketers.

There’s no release date set in stone for macOS Big Sur, but Apple’s major operating system updates typically roll out in the fall.

Source: Apple

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GOOGLE

Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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