Apple’s SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, unveiled the incoming Safari feature — which it’s calling “intelligent tracking prevention”.
The feature will use machine learning technology to power tracker blocking in a bid to outwit the digital stalkers, according to Federighi.
“It’s not about blocking ads, the web behaves as it always did, but your privacy is protected,” he added.
Apple has clearly spotted what it feels is growing appetite for web users to have more control over their browsing privacy.
A little more detail on how the tracker blocker will function can be found on Apple’s Webkit blog. “Intelligent Tracking Prevention [ITP] is a new WebKit feature that reduces cross-site tracking by further limiting cookies and other website data,” writes Apple’s John Wilander in the blog.
Apple then applies a machine learning model to classify which top privately controlled domains have the ability to track the user cross-site, based on the collected statistics. It notes that all data collection and classification happens on-device.
The ITP system analyzes the frequency of a user’s interaction with the websites they visit, automatically purging a site’s cookies entirely after 30 days if the person does not visit the site and ensuring its cookies cannot add new data so long as they don’t use the site.
However, if they do visit again, the tracker blocker temporarily adjusts how it responds — by, for example, allowing cookies in a third-party context for a one-day window before shutting that off if the person does not visit the site after 24 hours. In this scenario the cookies are partitioned, which means users can stay logged in to sites they only visit occasionally but those sites’ cookies are restricted for cross-site tracking purposes.
“This means users only have long-term persistent cookies and website data from the sites they actually interact with and tracking data is removed proactively as they browse the web,” adds Wilander.