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ANA, 4A's, IAB Among Ad Trade Groups Opposed To Apple's New Browser
In this Sept. 9, 2015 file photo, a man walks past the Apple logo following an Apple event in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
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Six advertising trade groups--the 4A’s, Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Advertising Federation, Data & Marketing Association, and Network Advertising Alliance--issued an open letter to the industry at large on Thursday (9/14), expressing their concern over the cookie-handling functionality of Apple’s new Safari 11 browser. 

Scheduled for release on Sept. 19, the browser reportedly features an Intelligent Tracking Prevention capability which Apple is implementing to better protect user privacy. But according to the ad trade associations, the technology places limits on tracking users across the Internet, thus making it more difficult for advertisers and marketers to deliver tailor-made, relevant content to consumers.

Key excerpts from the letter penned by the six ad trade groups representing the digital advertising community include the assertion that the Safari 11 browser update “overrides and replaces existing user-controlled cookie preferences with Apple’s own set of opaque and arbitrary standards for cookie handling.” 

The letter goes on to contend that “Safari’s new ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ would change the rules by which cookies are set and recognized by browsers. In addition to blocking all third-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain other than the one being visited), as the current version of Safari does, this new functionality would create a set of haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain the user has chosen to visit) that block their functionality or purge them from users’ browsers without notice or choice.

“The infrastructure of the modern Internet,” continued the letter, “depends on consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies, so digital companies can innovate to build content, services, and advertising that are personalized for users and remember their visits. Apple’s Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the Internet.”

The ad groups further wrote that Apple’s “unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economy, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumers by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.”

The letter concluded, “We strongly encourage Apple to rethink its plan to impose its own cookie standards and risk disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services.”