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EFF sides with Apple, slams Facebook’s criticism of iOS 14 privacy features as ‘laughable’

Facebook has spent the last week publicly criticizing Apple’s plans to add new privacy features to iOS 14 in early 2021. While Facebook has slammed Apple’s planned changes, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has now come out on Apple’s side, saying Facebook’s criticisms are “laughable.”

In 2021, Apple will roll out a new App Tracking Transparency feature, which will require that companies receive permission from users before tracking users across other apps and websites. The feature was initially planned for iOS 14’s release this fall, but Apple delayed the rollout until early 2021 to give developers more time to plan.

As the release of the App Tracking Transparency feature nears, Facebook has engaged in a public PR battle against Apple. Facebook says the new changes will harm small businesses and affect the ability for businesses to reach new customers. Apple, on the other hand, says that the feature will not require to Facebook to change its approach to tracking users, instead only to seek permission.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, says that Facebook’s argument doesn’t quite add up:

Facebook has recently launched a campaign touting itself as the protector of small businesses. This is a laughable attempt from Facebook to distract you from its poor track record of anticompetitive behavior and privacy issues as it tries to derail pro-privacy changes from Apple that are bad for Facebook’s business.

Requiring trackers to request your consent before stalking you across the Internet should be an obvious baseline, and we applaud Apple for this change. But Facebook, having built a massive empire around the concept of tracking everything you do by letting applications sell and share your data across a shady set of third-party companies, would like users and policymakers to believe otherwise.

On Facebook’s argument that small businesses will be affected, the EFF says such claims “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Facebook touts itself in this case as protecting small businesses, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Facebook has locked them into a situation in which they are forced to be sneaky and adverse to their own customers. The answer cannot be to defend that broken system at the cost of their own users’ privacy and control.

Finally, EFF calls on Google to follow in Apple’s footsteps:

Overall, AppTrackingTransparency is a great step forward for Apple. When a company does the right thing for its users, EFF will stand with it, just as we will come down hard on companies that do the wrong thing. Here, Apple is right and Facebook is wrong. Next step: Android should follow with the same protections. Your move, Google.

You can read the EFF’s full blog post right here.

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