Among the product announcements made at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday was a new technology being added to its Safari web browser intended to protect user privacy.
Dubbed Intelligent Tracking Prevention, the feature will add to Apple’s efforts in blocking third-party cookies that allow entities to track users’ web activity and gather personal information.
The Safari browser, running on macOS High Sierra, or OS X 10.13 (scheduled for release later this year), will dampen the efforts of websites and advertisers looking to capture browser histories.
Web surfers have encountered the consequences of third-party cookies when they visit a site and then soon find ads for that product or service popping up in their social media feeds or on other sites they visit. Apple claims that some popular sites have as many as 70 trackers capable of assessing web surfers’ viewing patterns and concatenating their shopping habits, a technique called cross-site tracking.
While advertisers argue that the technology benefits consumers in personalizing their web experience so that ads appear for products they’ve shown interest in, others argue that privacy rights are being abused in that sometimes, at least, the user is not aware that they are being tracked and their personal viewing habits being collected.
To block all this activity would interfere with a user’s experience when returning to a site often visited. Rather, the newest iteration of Apple’s Safari browser will employ machine learning to prioritize the sites regularly visited and partition away cookies associated with domains visited less frequently. Cookies will be deleted from a site not clicked on within 30 days.