Apple Drops Another ID Bomb  

You knew it would be a fairly interesting week for digital identity with Apple hosting its Worldwide Developers Conference, and the tech giant — the one that went from actively not caring about advertising to exerting a massive amount of influence over its future in quite a short amount of time — did not disappoint.

Not only did Apple drop yet another ID bomb at the show, but it also did so in true deliberately vague Apple fashion, casually mentioning something about IP addresses that would seem to have massive ramifications for the digital ad ecosystem. Let’s get into what happened this week, in the Future of Advertising.

Not down with IP

In a must-read piece, mobile analyst Eric Seufert wrote that “It’s Apple’s Internet Now.” Why such extreme language? Well, as Seufert explained, thanks to a new feature called “Private Relay,” “this setting essentially renders iPhone users anonymous to the web.”

“It’s designed so that no one, including Apple, can see both who you are and what sites you’re visiting,” said Mike Abbott, VP of Apple Cloud Services.

Private Relay is for the mobile web right now, but as AdExchanger reported, “there’s no reason it couldn’t be used for apps.” Speaking of apps. Apple also unveiled a new interface through which consumers can manage which companies have permission to track them and which don’t, reported TechCrunch.

Overall, it was hard to walk away from WWDC without feeling convinced (if you weren’t already) that the dream of one-to-one location-based mobile ad targeting — will remain just that.

Here in the US, in some states, it’s becoming customary to use apps to prove that you’ve received one of the vaccines for COVID-19, while in other states, resistance to that sort of Big Brother-like tracking is high. Meanwhile, officials in the European Union are aiming much higher, reported the Associated Press. The EU’s executive committee envisions the proposed European Digital Identity Wallet to keep track of not just a person’s vaccination status but could also serve as a replacement for carrying driver’s licenses and other official documents, like proof of education. On the one hand, millions of Americans are already trusting their most valued possession — i.e., their cash — to mobile payment systems. But would this sort of comprehensive identity solution ever fly in the US, where a significant portion of the country is worried about being tracked by a shot in their arm? Regardless, if you’re planning to visit Europe this summer, bring extra phone chargers.

Trust but verify and verify some more

Also making news overseas — in the UK, Google is feeling some heat with regard to cookies, but not in the way you might think. The country’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is pushing Google to be more open about how it plans to phase out cookies and implement FLoC. Despite the reputation among Europeans of being heavily pro-privacy and anti-tracking, UK regulators seem to want Google to pump the brakes — not because they love cookies but rather because they are not so sure how Google has demonstrated that it won’t gain an unfair advantage because of FLoC. At this point, Google has committed to working closely with both the CMA and the UK data regulator Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to make sure that all concerns are met.

Rocky Mountain ID

At least things are simpler in the US, right? Well, there’s the California Privacy Act, and that other California Privacy law, and that California committee, and a Virginia law — and now, there’s Colorado. Specifically, the coming Colorado Privacy Act (CPA). Under this law, “consumers will have the right to not only opt out of the processing of personal data — which is often sold and used for targeted advertising purposes — but also to authorize another person to opt out on one’s behalf. Further, CPA will allow consumers to request deletion of personal information and correct inaccuracies concerning one’s personal data,” per The Drum.

Plus, the law advocates for the establishment of a universal means for consumers to opt out of digital tracking across the web, not unlike That would seem to be a heavy limit on data companies or ad networks promising access to a broad group of consumers. “It continues the trend towards allowing consumers, whether through an authorized agent or browser-based tools, to exercise their opt-out rights on a global level, rather than going site by site or company by company,” said Jessica Lee, partner at law firm Loeb & Loeb and co-chair of the company’s privacy, security and data innovations.

The more complicated and patchwork US privacy laws get, the more demand there is likely to be for national digital data collection laws. Until then, many brands may become even more skittish than they already are.

On that cheery note, see you next week!