Apple clamps down hard on web tracking


The web can be a scary place.
Photo: Juanjo Menta/Pexels CC

The team that develops WebKit for Apple’s Safari browser is taking a strong stand against companies tracking people on the web.

They call out tracking as an infringement of user privacy, and promise WebKit will block it wherever possible.

WebKit is the rendering engine of every Safari edition. It’s the heart of this browser so changes made to it affect the versions used in macOS, iOS, etc.

Secret tracking won‘t be allowed

A new statement from the WebKit team claims “web tracking … practices are harmful to users because they infringe on a user’s privacy without giving users the ability to identify, understand, consent to, or control them.”

The developers go on to say “WebKit will do its best to prevent all covert tracking, and all cross-site tracking (even when it’s not covert).” When tracking can’t be completely blocked, it will be limited as much as possible.

The team makes an exception for logging into multiple websites with a single account, as long as the user is doing this consciously. Many sites allow users to sign in with their Facebook or Google account, for example. However, the WebKit team’s statement does warn that this could be “inadvertently affected.”

The WebKit development group warns companies not to look for loopholes in its attempts to block tracking. “We treat circumvention of shipping anti-tracking measures with the same seriousness as exploitation of security vulnerabilities.” Companies what are caught could face additional restrictions.

Their statement didn’t say when the changes they make to block web tracking will begin to appear in Safari on Mac, iPhones, or other Apple devices.



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