One of the side effects of promoting yourself as a staunch privacy advocate is that all your actions in that regard will be heavily scrutinized. Apple is indeed facing such attention in light of a major Group FaceTime bug and Facebook’s misuse of its enterprise creds, but even the little things are getting some time in the spotlight. Apple is making some changes to the iOS version of Safari and while this removal of the “Do Not Track” setting may sound antithetical at first, it ironically protects users even more.
The implementation of this Do Not Track feature, something common in most browsers these days, is actually an old one. It was proposed by the FTC as a way for users to tell advertisers that they do not want to be tracked. Unfortunately, it was up to the advertising company to decide whether to honor that request or not. Chances are, they didn’t.
But more than just being practically useless, Apple considers it a security hole that has to be closed. Because just as advertisers are free to ignore the request, they can also use that request to identify the browser making that request which, ironically, they could use to actually track the user.
So Apple is removing that toggle in Safari version 12.1 which will debut in iOS 12.2. And to keep things consistent, it will also remove it from the upcoming macOS 10.14.4. That’s not to say it will be leaving users unprotected. It does have its Intelligent Tracking Prevention which reportedly does a better job than an outdated standard.