Apple announced a significant update on Tuesday 24 March to its Safari 13.1 Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), the privacy function that enables the company’s web browser to block cookies and prevent marketers from snooping into their web habits.
In other words, it means online marketers and analytics companies will no longer be able to use our browser cookies to follow us around like bloodhounds as we move from site to site, monitoring and mapping our desires and activities for whatever profit-motivated, privacy-wrecking purposes they might have.
“The long wait is over and the latest update to Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention is here: Full third-party cookie blocking and more safari users, welcome to the future and a safer web!’ tweeted Apple’s Webkit engineer John Wilander who developed the feature.
Today’s decision by Apple does not mean that Safari is now blocking all tracking of users, but only tracking methods that rely on planting a cookie file in Safari and (re) checking the cookie time and time again to identify the user as he travels from site to site. Other device monitoring methods, including fingerprinting with the app / browser, will most likely continue to function.
This release brings together a lot of enhancements, bug fixes and upgrades to iCloud file sharing, universal purchase support and more. This also launched the Safari, its default browser on Apple devices, a significant privacy feature. This also means that Safari is at least two years ahead of Google’s Chrome, which declared recently that it wants such a feature, but will not release it until 2022.
The company released its Safari ITP about three years ago in 2017, when Safari began automatically blocking cookies on both the desktop and mobile phones. It just blocked some cookies, though. After this update, by default, Apple’s browser will start blocking all cookies from third parties.
Therefore, Safari joins other browsers that either intend to monitor third-party cookies or even block them by default, like the Tor browser. In September 2019, Mozilla rolled out the privacy enhancement stating that Firefox will by default block all tracking cookies and cryptomining.