No one likes being stalked around the internet by ads for something they once looked at or have previously bought. And Apple has noticed this — so it’s adding an ad tracker blocker for its Safari web browser as part of a series of updates of its desktop OS.
Apple’s SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, unveiled the incoming Safari feature — which it’s calling “intelligent tracking prevention” — onstage at its developer conference, WWDC, drawing applause and a handful of appreciative “woos” from the crowd.
The feature will use machine learning technology to power tracker blocking in a bid to outwit the digital stalkers, according to Federighi.
“Safari uses machine learning to identify trackers, segregate the cross-site scripting data, put it away so now your privacy — your browsing history — is your own,” he explained.
“It’s not about blocking ads, the web behaves as it always did, but your privacy is protected,” he added.
There are plenty of questions here — such as how effective the tech will prove versus ad industry ingenuity; whether it will be enabled by default; and how much configuration consumers will be offered. Not to mention whether Apple will be extending the blocker to the mobile version of Safari. But it’s a positive step for privacy.
The explosive proliferation of online trackers in recent years — which not only intrude on web users’ privacy but can add serious lag to page load times too — has led to the rise of browser extensions for tracker blocking.
One of these standalones, Ghostery, was recently acquired by a pro-privacy browser called Cliqz, for example.
Apple has clearly spotted what it feels is growing appetite for web users to have more control over their browsing privacy.
Update: A little more detail on how the tracker blocker will function can be found on Apple’s Webkit blog, where it notes that it’s building on long-standing Webkit features aimed at reducin...