Advertisers accuse Apple of sabotaging the Internet with Safari

Vital changes have been made to the way targeted ads are able to operate on Safari 11, and many big-name advertising companies are deeply unhappy with this. So unhappy, in fact, they’ve written a letter stating that this will “sabotage the economic model for the Internet.”

Three months ago, Apple launched what it calls Intelligent Tracking Prevention. This effectively places a limit on the way third-party cookies track users across websites. For example, it restricts how much data Amazon’s tracking cookies can get from your browser when you visit Apple’s website.

Safari 11, however, also places limits on first-party cookies set by the sites you visit. These cookies enable sites like Amazon to show you products that are related to the items you have previously viewed. For advertisers, restricting these is obviously not the perfect scenario because it would force them to reconsider their whole strategy, and likely require them to find other ways to develop targeted advertising campaigns.

The letter of complaint states that Safari 11’s new approach ‘would create a set of haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies.’ This is of course open to debate. Cookies stored in the last 24 hours still get higher privileges, while those stored in the last month enjoy certain privileges such as single sign-on. But after that, all cookies get deleted.

The letter by the advertising firms also claims that the contemporary Internet’s whole infrastructure relies on ‘consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies,’ and that “Apple’s Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience.”

Google has also commenced tests on its own ad blocker that might become available in 2018. Advertisers claim that these changes will make advertising more anonymous and hence of less use to website visitors. Apple, on the other hand, argues that Intelligent Tracking Prevention will help protect users’ privacy.

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