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Happy Friday, U.S. Digest readers!         

I surprised myself this week when I excitedly jumped at the chance to update my Apple iPhone. I usually push updates off for as long as I can, but when I heard iOS 14.5 became available Monday, I went into my phone’s settings and quickly hit “update.” I have not been out and about since, but I do anticipate the ability to unlock my phone while wearing a mask will come in handy in our current world. But it was the update’s new privacy notification feature that excited me even more.

The update includes App Tracking Transparency, requiring applications that want to share user information with third parties, for personalized ads, for example, to obtain explicit user permission to do so. When those apps open, a pop-up window asks, “Allow [App Name] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” Users can choose “Ask App Not to Track” or “Allow.” Apps with tracking must include the pop-up in their next software update or risk being banned from the App Store. The New York Times outlined the update.

I have yet to see the pop-up myself, but I look forward to making that choice.

The impact the update and users who choose not to be tracked will have on the advertising industry has been widely discussed. My colleague Joe Duball explored Apple’s changes, as well as Google’s phasing out of third-party cookies, and their potential impact on the adtech space for The Privacy Advisor. In recent months, Facebook has argued the feature would hurt small businesses, even taking out ads and encouraging ad tracking opt-in through a prompt on its mobile app. This week, the company said the impact would be “manageable,” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined an e-commerce strategy, with features including Facebook Marketplace and Instagram’s new Creator Shops, as key to the company’s growth.

The impact the change could have on the revenue of companies large and small and whether the industry will find new and different ways of tracking users remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt this is a game-changer for third-party tracking and a step in the right direction giving users a choice in an up-front-and-center way.

“The option was available before, but, really, was it?” research scientist Stephanie Nguyen told The New York Times of settings users previously had to search through. “That’s a big shift — making it visible.”

We at the IAPP will be busy, for sure, as we continue closely watching how this unfolds.

Enjoy your weekend!

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