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Apple has restricted the use of some sensitive APIs. It only wants to allow extensive device fingerprinting if developers provide a good reason for doing so. “Regardless of whether a user gives your app permission to track, fingerprinting is not allowed.”

The tech giant indicates that as of spring 2024, no apps will be allowed that don’t explain why they need device fingerprinting. For example, an app developer will not always be able to know how long an iPhone has been on, how much storage capacity is in use or which app settings were chosen. Such statistics are usually covered by the terms and conditions the user accepts, unlike, say, camera or microphone usage.

Within many applications, this form of fingerprinting allows individual users to be distinguished from one another. While the user may remain anonymous, enough “identifiers” can immediately clarify which device is involved. This seems to be a privacy stumbling block for Apple that it wants to remove as much as possible. The Register cites research that fingerprinting usage has exploded on popular websites over the past ten years.

Time to adapt

Apple is not closing these APIs off faster, simply because many applications may not work otherwise. As of this fall, developers already have to explain why they may deploy specific “required reasons” APIs.

It is a good example of the changing privacy requirements that always seem to be current in recent years. Privacy watchdogs from the EU, U.K. and America often hand out hefty fines to big tech companies that violate the rules, although this seems far from constantly changing behaviour.

Also read: Meta awaits daily fine of €89,000 by Norway