In macOS High Sierra, third parties will have a more difficult time sharing any tracking information via Safari. It’s all part of Apple’s approach to privacy, and it’s not just lip service. While such policies certainly helps the company from a marketing standpoint, they’re also routinely turned into product features.

The new feature seems to have the potential to make it harder for unrelated sites to follow you around the internet. But some experts believe that, while a noble technology to deploy, the action has already shifted to a different front that Apple can’t help with directly.

You’re the product

Apple has long taken the stance that it doesn’t treat our private data and online behavior as property it can sell or lease to others. This notion is partly in reaction to Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others who make their money in different ways than Apple, all of which have led them to push at the legal and ethical limits of harvesting our personal lives.

When was the last time you remember any of those sites making a change that you felt increased your privacy? Meanwhile, you can list court cases, features, options, and under-the-hood technology that Apple has pursued to prevent unwanted or unwarranted access to your data and private life.

In iOS 9, Apple added content-blocking Safari extensions, and brought the same technology to macOS in Sierra the next year. App developers could create rulesets that prevented content from specific domains, containing certain formatting elements, or in various media formats from loading at all.

This seemed like an awfully hostile move, even though 11 percent of all internet users currently use ad-blocking software, according to PageFair. But ad blocking largely isn’t about advertising. Rather, it’s about page bloat, load time, popovers, auto-play videos, bandwidth usage, a site’s usability, and unintentionally delivered malware. Most users don’t necessarily complain about all these factors at once, but those who install Ghostery, 1Blocker, and other desktop and mobile filters do so from frustration. (Yes, some people just object to ads qua ads, but ads pay the bills.)

Apple’s latest move, announced at WWDC, doesn’t block ads at all, but it tries to prevent unwanted pathways between user behaviors and tracking, often used for targeted advertising. Those pathways allow tracking systems to follow you by storing information in your browser that the browser then sends when you visit other sites that use the same trackers.

Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) is Apple’s term for the new technology going into WebKit, the open-source engine Apple developers that underlies Safari for macOS and iOS, as well as third-party browsers. At this stage, Apple has discussed ITP only as a macOS feature.

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