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Open letter asks tech firms to stop targeting ads at users under 18
by Paul Hill
An open letter has been signed in the U.K. by a member of parliament (MPs), academics, and children’s rights advocates to bring an end to advertising to users younger than 18 by big tech firms such as Facebook and Google. Among those signing were Caroline Lucas MP, Amnesty International, Privacy International, and Friends of the Earth.
The letter was published just days after a lawsuit was lodged against Google accusing it of breaking U.K. and E.U. data protection laws by targeting under-13s with addictive programming and using their data for advertising purposes. The letter calls on protections to be extended to all children under the age of 18.
A section of the open letter reads as follows:
In the case of Google, it allows all users to disable ad personalisation within a user’s account settings. To address some of the concerns being raised by the signatories, it could automatically set this toggle to disabled for all children’s accounts. While this may not address some of the tracking that Google performs, it will eliminate the problem of behavioural advertising.
Microsoft is updating the privacy settings on Xbox, no longer collecting voice data
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has announced that it's building on the commitment shared in April of last year by updating the privacy settings for Xbox users. As it promised at the time, the updates aim to give users more control and provide more transparency regarding the types of data it collects.
In the coming weeks, when users first sign into their consoles, they'll see an overview of the data required diagnostic data that Microsoft collects. This message will also show up on Xbox Series S and X consoles when they launch on November 10.
The required diagnostic data includes error details that prevent games and apps running, errors with the console setup, and errors related to software updates. Naturally, this data is required so Microsoft can keep things working as you'd expect them to. The new message will let users learn more about the data being collected, though you'll be forced to accept it if you want to use the console.
One thing that's changed is that Microsoft is no longer collecting data from voice searches or speech-to-text conversions. According to the company, it collects data with the goal of supporting "positive player experiences" on the console, and it has concluded that this data isn't necessary for that purpose.
In addition to the required data, users will also be given the option to share optional diagnostic data, which includes actions you take while using the console, performance data, and enhanced error reporting with more details on the conditions that cause crashes or errors. Like with required data, you can learn more about what's being collected, and in this case, you can choose not to share said data. You can also change this setting after the fact in the console's settings.
By Jay Bonggolto
Apple delays new privacy feature limiting app tracking capabilities until 2021
by Jay Bonggolto
The privacy rule was initially set to go live along with the release of its latest operating system this fall after debuting in June during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple says it is now giving developers more time to prepare for the upcoming change, which is expected to limit the way ads are targeted on iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14.
Advertising titans such as Facebook have criticized the app privacy feature because it will make it more difficult to track user data by preventing apps from collecting that data using Apple’s device identifier, without their consent. Developers will also need to share information on their App Store product pages about how their apps are collecting the users' data. For consumers, the feature allows them to opt out of in-app ad tracking, in which case apps won't be able to collect the identifier for advertisers (IDFA), a critical tool for advertising.
Today's announcement means developers will be required to incorporate that option into their apps starting in early 2021. Apple will announce more details, including an update to the App Store review guidelines, in the fall.
By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook warns that new privacy protections in iOS 14 will hurt parts of its business
by Jay Bonggolto
Facebook announced today the key steps it is taking to address major privacy changes introduced by iOS 14. Announced in June, Apple's latest operating system for iPhone will make it harder for businesses to track user data by preventing apps from collecting those data using Apple’s device identifier without their consent.
The social networking giant said it will stop collecting the identifier for advertisers (IDFA) on its apps on devices that are eligible for iOS 14. Facebook's Audience Network uses IDFA to personalize third-party app advertising. The company denounced the upcoming change, noting that it would limit the advertisers’ ability to target and measure their ads on iOS 14. As a result, app developers and publishers will see reduced CPMs on Audience Network and possibly on other ad networks on iOS.
Facebook said in a blog post:
The Menlo Park-based company also noted that, based on its tests, this change reduced the advertisers' revenues on iOS by up to 50% because of the removal of personalization in mobile ad install campaigns. Facebook added that its actual impact on publishers that rely on Audience Network may be even worse.
Facebook is now developing short-and long-term strategies to support publishers as these changes take effect. As part of that preparation, the firm plans to update the Facebook SDK in compliance with the iOS 14 limitations. It will also ask companies to set up a new ad account for running app install ad campaigns for iOS 14 users.
Twitter launches its new Transparency Center to boost openness
by Paul Hill
Twitter has announced the launch of its new Transparency Center which makes it easy for the general public to learn about various types of enforcement actions performed by Twitter and the requests it has received.
The new tool highlights items such as the number of government information requests, the amount of accounts Twitter had to enforce its rules on, information about the number of accounts that states have requested data on, the number of removal requests and copyright notices it has received, and more.
Twitter has been publishing transparency reports since 2012. With the new Transparency Center, the firm wants to make the information more accessible, here's a rundown of the new features accessible to users:
In its announcement, Twitter highlighted that transparency is at the core of the work it does. It said that transparency is vital to its mission of protecting the open internet where users have freedom of expression and privacy rights.