Consumer Alert: Apple’s new update keeps your iPhone from spying on you

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Tuesday’s consumer alert takes a look at your phone and your privacy.

Apple is rolling out some changes this week that will affect everyone who has an iPhone. Do you ever feel like your phone is spying on you? We’ve all had this experience. You’re shopping on your phone, and for days, ads for that product seem to follow you all over the web.

As most of you know, I’m a four-time cancer survivor and I do a lot of searching for information on cutting-edge treatments and living well following chemo. And one of the sponsored ads on my Facebook feed Tuesday was an ad from about metastatic breast cancer.

That’s not a coincidence. Facebook tracked my web browser so that it can place ads on my feed that will more likely pique my interest. So Apple has made a huge move to protect your privacy.

This week it rolled out an update to its iOS operating system that puts controlling your privacy in your hands.

Here’s how iOS 14.5 works: When you download an app, you’ll get a pop-up asking for permission to track your usage across apps and websites owned by other companies. You now have the ability to say no. Apps can still track your usage in their app, but they can’t share that data with third parties unless you give them permission.

For example, Facebook can still track my usage on Facebook, but if I use my Facebook credentials to shop on another site like Poshmark or eBay, Facebook has to ask my permission to track me.

And Apple users have another privacy control. You can say no to all apps with the click of a button. You can also opt-out of app tracking across every app you download by going to Settings > Privacy > Tracking, and toggling off Allow Apps to Request to Track. This means any app that tries to ask for your permission will be blocked from asking, and automatically informed that you have requested not to be tracked.

You can also pick and choose which apps you want to give permission to.

And there’s more. Before you download an app it must disclose what Apple is calling a nutrition label. It will tell you the data the app will access on your phone, and exactly how it will use that data.

As you can imagine, advertisers are not pleased. Targeted ads are more effective. To be clear, you’re still going to see ads on your phone, but without tracking those ads won’t be for that pair of sneakers you were shopping for yesterday.

And that’s your consumer alert.