IPhone and iPad developer Apple are trying to inform their audiences on ways they can protect their personal details from being shared with third parties, with the reveal of a new ad that was released today.
The ad – which can be viewed below – features a young girl named Ellie exploring an old record store, when suddenly she comes across a wooden door with a sign on it. The sign reads “Ellie’s Data Auction” and serves as an omen of what’s to come.
As Ellie opens the door, she finds herself in a room full of people dressed as if they were heading out to a gala all sitting in chairs as a man on a stage sells out a number of items to the highest bidder. However, these items aren’t just random, but they all have some connection to Ellie. More specifically, it is her personal data that is being sold off.
Having seen enough of this, the young girl takes out her iPhone and with two quick changes on her settings, turns all the people attending this auction into gold dust.
It is these new settings, through which the new campaign’s protagonist was able to free herself of her pesky intruders, that Apple hopes to shed some light on.
More specifically, in regards to the acquisition of personal data, a representative for the company stressed that these auctions, while not so extravagant, do actually take place between companies: “Over the past decade, a large and opaque industry has been amassing increasing amounts of personal data. A complex ecosystem of websites, apps, social media companies, data brokers, and ad tech firms track users online and offline, harvesting their personal data. This data is pieced together, shared, aggregated, and used in real-time auctions, fuelling a $227 billion-a-year industry. This occurs everyday, as people go about their daily lives, often without their knowledge or permission.”
Apple’s reps highlighted certain key points of the ad that reveal how a number of updates and settings will help users protect their personal details.
More specifically, at point 0:24 of the ad, the auctioneer reveals Ellie’s personal emails, including one she’s recently received and viewed. To prevent Apple user information, such as when and how many times they viewed an email, from reaching the hands of others, they can simply turn on their Mail Privacy Protection, like the main character does at the end of the short video.
Thirty-three seconds past the starting point of the ad, the auctioneer attempts to sell off Ellie’s private transaction history of “drug store purchases”. According to the company, the Apple Pay does not keep a record of their user’s transactions, so neither they themselves nor anyone else can have access to that data.
“Apple doesn’t store or have access to the original credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers that you use with Apple Pay. And when you use Apple Pay with credit, debit, or prepaid cards, Apple doesn’t retain any transaction information that can be tied back to you—your transactions stay between you, the merchant or developer, and your bank or card issuer,” revealed the company’s representative.
Location services have been another hot-topic amongst Apple users, as can seen at 0:44 of the video, where the auctioneer sells Ellie’s history. However, Apple users are now asked if they want to share their location with an app before that information becomes available to them. They also have the choice to make their location known all the time or just while they’re using the app in question.
Ellie’s “contacts” and “browsing history” are the next two items to be sold off during the fictional auction. But now, users have a choice on which applications they share their contacts with and thanks to Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention system, trackers cannot follow their movements online.
Finally, Ellie’s late-night messaging habits are put out for purchase. However according to the company themselves, now that won’t be an option for any potential buyers: “With watchOS, iOS, and iPadOS, your messages are encrypted on your device so they can’t be accessed without your passcode. iMessage and FaceTime are designed so that there’s no way for Apple or anyone else to read your messages when they’re in transit between devices.”
Ellie then turns on the App Tracking Transparency and her Mail Privacy Protection, two features which, based on Apple themselves, will greatly help in the prevention of sharing personal information: “With iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, apps must ask for permission before tracking your activity across other companies’ apps and websites. Tracking occurs when information that identifies you or your device collected from an app is linked with information that identifies you or your device collected on apps, websites and other locations owned by third parties for the purposes of targeted advertising or advertising measurement, or when the information collected is shared with data brokers.”