French publishers ask Tim Cook to abandon forthcoming Web Eraser

Posted:
in iOS

Advertisers and publishers in France have jointly written to Tim Cook imploring Apple to not roll out the ability for Safari users to selectively erase portions of sites, such as ads.

A Safari address bar showing a tool dropdown with mentions of 'Erase' and 'Intelligent Browsing' options. A Safari icon is on the left with the text 'Safari 18' below it.
Safari getting new AI tools in iOS 18



Apple has not even announced the forthcoming Web Eraser -- exclusively uncovered by AppleInsider -- but the expectation that it will come soon has already galvanized UK publishers into asking Tim Cook for it to be abandoned. Now according to Business Insider, a group of French trade bodies are doing the same on behalf of their publishing and advertising industry

"Besides the extremely short notice period and the lack of detailed and verified information on this new feature," says the letter, "it raises numerous questions, particularly concerning legal and editorial responsibilities that Apple has still not responded to."

The group, including Geste, SRI, and digital marketing trade body Alliance Digitale, say that the feature would jeopardize ad sales "in an already troubled period."

"[It would] restrict citizens' access to free, diverse, and quality information," continues the letter to Cook, "with significant consequences for pluralism, content accessibility, and democratic vitality. The group estimates that Safari has around 25% of the whole browser market in France, and with mobile devices it's almost 90%.

Noting that the feature has the potential to threaten 100,000 jobs in France, the trade group simultaneously sent a copy of its letter to French ministers of culture and the economy, as well as Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for internal markets.

Apple has not commented on the French group's letter. It apparently has not responded to the UK letter, either, despite that being sent around May 10.

If the Web Eraser makes it into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, or the next version of macOS, it will be announced at WWDC 2024.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    "Besides the extremely short notice period and the lack of detailed and verified information on this new feature," says the letter, "it raises numerous questions, particularly concerning legal and editorial responsibilities that Apple has still not responded to."
    Why would Apple respond to a question about something they literally haven’t even announced? One website posted a rumor and these people are jumping the gun to attack Apple. Even if it happens, we have no idea how it will work. Not to mention, there will be months of beta testing that is specifically to get feedback.

    At any rate, I control what gets downloaded to my device. Ads are malware vectors; ad blocking is a security measure. Even the FBI recommends using them now.  
    lam92103timpetuswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,431member
    We have too many content creators.  

    I'm all for stripping away the more useless ones.  Consumers have been tired.  

    I remember the first Apple foray into Safari features that stop auto-play videos .

    They worked around it just like they'll work around Web Eraser.   I don't feel 

    Pity for any of these companies.  They've poisoned the web with their ever 

    increasing annoyances with advertising payloads.  Apple has no duty to 

    make Malware more accessible. 
    lam92103timpetusStrangeDayswilliamlondonMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    quote: “"[It would] restrict citizens' access to free…”
    They forgot to tell us that… they will be sell our private user data to advertisers!

    If we remember the paper newspapers… they had lots of ads —the most selling newspaper in Argentina had more of 60% of its paper surface filled with ads—… but those ads did neither track us nor steal our use behavior.

    Maybe Apple can implement a ‘Track Eraser’: It leaves the page as it is… but erases all the ‘tracking code’ in the ads. You just see them!
    DAalsethtimpetusstevedownunderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,842member
    [It would] restrict citizens' access to free, diverse, and quality information

    No, not it would not. Actually allowing citizens to view what they want free from obtrusive ads that spy on them is the exact opposite of that. 

    timpetusStrangeDayswilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,068member
    Stick a fork in the EU they are done...... :smile: 
    edited May 29 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,840member
    "Besides the extremely short notice period and the lack of detailed and verified information on this new feature," says the letter, "it raises numerous questions, particularly concerning legal and editorial responsibilities that Apple has still not responded to."
    Why would Apple respond to a question about something they literally haven’t even announced? One website posted a rumor and these people are jumping the gun to attack Apple. Even if it happens, we have no idea how it will work. Not to mention, there will be months of beta testing that is specifically to get feedback.

    At any rate, I control what gets downloaded to my device. Ads are malware vectors; ad blocking is a security measure. Even the FBI recommends using them now.  
    The key is in whether or not the letter is public or not. 

    If it was a private letter dealing with rumoured OS changes, then that would be OK because anyone with a business related interest should move in their own interests and behind the scenes dialogue is very common. 

    If, on the other hand, it was fished out to the media or posted as an open letter, that would definitely be jumping the gun. 
  • Reply 7 of 17
    nubusnubus Posts: 462member
    I'm tired of gatekeepers breaking business models as they please. Meta/Facebook completely removed Groups API with v19.0 and with that integrations and companies that had built plugins around that API (https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/05/meta-cuts-off-third-party-access-to-facebook-groups-leaving-developers-and-customers-in-disarray/

    We have Google planning to deprecate some cookies. Not to limit tracking but to force companies to do tracking through Google Advertising Manager with PPID.

    And we have Apple being so tired of creators that editing the products from publishers is fine with Apple. 

    Content can be financed either by ads and/or by paywall. Removing ads without paying is stealing. Surely there must be legal limitations to tracking etc. and users should have the option to avoid tracking by paying. But to let customers skip payment and modify products shouldn't be allowed. And yes... the first digital device from Jobs/Woz allowed people to call long distance without paying. To see something similar from Apple today is not OK.

    avon b7williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 17
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 615member
    The reality is that the ads are a shady practice tracking and selling user data and they are intrusive often to the detriment of the main product / periodical.

    If the publishers did not sell our data and if the ads did not play video or suck cpu cycles, if they were simple image links, then most people would have no problem with them.


    thtwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,318member
    Agree with the majority here, if the EU is true about a commitment to consumer rights than the ability to remove garbage from a website and not be tracked by intrusive advertisers from site to site should be a priority over the media companies.

    But if the EU’s priority is sticking it to big (American) tech we will know soon enough.  Love the invention of concepts like “duopoly” that governments use to do their thing.
    williamlondonJanNLwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    looplessloopless Posts: 338member
    Now the EU "content publishers" aka "people-who-scrape-your-data-and-sell-it" come crying to Apple , as if Apple has any sympathy for anyone in the EU at the moment with their draconian anti-US tech laws that is born mainly of jealousy at the success Apple enjoys.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    nubus said:
    I'm tired of gatekeepers breaking business models as they please. Meta/Facebook completely removed Groups API with v19.0 and with that integrations and companies that had built plugins around that API (https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/05/meta-cuts-off-third-party-access-to-facebook-groups-leaving-developers-and-customers-in-disarray/

    We have Google planning to deprecate some cookies. Not to limit tracking but to force companies to do tracking through Google Advertising Manager with PPID.

    And we have Apple being so tired of creators that editing the products from publishers is fine with Apple. 

    Content can be financed either by ads and/or by paywall. Removing ads without paying is stealing. Surely there must be legal limitations to tracking etc. and users should have the option to avoid tracking by paying. But to let customers skip payment and modify products shouldn't be allowed. And yes... the first digital device from Jobs/Woz allowed people to call long distance without paying. To see something similar from Apple today is not OK.

    Nice try, but legal precedents and the courts have already established that it’s not. You should educate yourself better. The relevant issue is the DCMA and is narrow in scope.

    https://blockadblock.com/adblocking/adblockers-dont-break-the-law-except-when-they-do/

    Nor do publishers rely on ad revenue alone:

    https://digitalethics.org/essays/ad-blocking-theft
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    48104810 Posts: 1member
    Why would Apple engineer its progressive web browser around the media industry vs customer preferences?

    More to the point, when will the media & ad industries accept that people detest ads?

    I use Safari, ad blockers, pop up blockers and every privacy feature available to prevent the ceaseless harvesting of my data and ability to target me. I value my privacy. Apple understands this and is catering to it.

    The media & ad industries (especially Google) have only themselves to blame for the situation they are now in. Indeed, if Apple improves my ability to block ads and tracking even further, I will embrace it.

    The above said, I happily pay (via subscriptions) for quality journalism and other media. This is the way forward. No ads!!!
    danoxwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,900member
    nubus said:
    ... Surely there must be legal limitations to tracking etc. and users should have the option to avoid tracking by paying. ...

    It's pretty obvious that your concern is mainly with your pocket, but I'm afraid you have that backwards. If you want to track me, you should be paying me for the privilege.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    migselvmigselv Posts: 5member

    The group estimates that Safari has around 25% of the whole browser market in France, and with mobile devices it's almost 90%.

    Funny that "the Group" estimates the numbers this high.

    Numbers from Statcounter:

    Desktop: 5,85%

    Mobile: 26,24%

    All platforms: 15,8%



    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    williamlondonwilliamlondon Posts: 1,369member
    migselv said:

    The group estimates that Safari has around 25% of the whole browser market in France, and with mobile devices it's almost 90%.

    Funny that "the Group" estimates the numbers this high.

    Numbers from Statcounter:

    Desktop: 5,85%

    Mobile: 26,24%

    All platforms: 15,8%



    Nice, thanks for that. Not surprising they would alter the numbers to boost their argument, being psychological manipulators (convincing you to buy/think things you neither need nor want) as they are. That's their whole schtick.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 17
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,744member
    nubus said:
    I'm tired of gatekeepers breaking business models as they please. Meta/Facebook completely removed Groups API with v19.0 and with that integrations and companies that had built plugins around that API (https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/05/meta-cuts-off-third-party-access-to-facebook-groups-leaving-developers-and-customers-in-disarray/

    We have Google planning to deprecate some cookies. Not to limit tracking but to force companies to do tracking through Google Advertising Manager with PPID.

    And we have Apple being so tired of creators that editing the products from publishers is fine with Apple. 

    Content can be financed either by ads and/or by paywall. Removing ads without paying is stealing. Surely there must be legal limitations to tracking etc. and users should have the option to avoid tracking by paying. But to let customers skip payment and modify products shouldn't be allowed. And yes... the first digital device from Jobs/Woz allowed people to call long distance without paying. To see something similar from Apple today is not OK.
    Wow, talk about entitlement. Just because someone comes up with a business model doesn't mean it has a right to exist. To call ad blocking theft is pretty rich. It's basically a socio-economic experiment gone awry with inundation of ads, tracking, and harvesting information about what you do on your device. People are tired of it and are learning about all the creepy things going on behind the scenes. Time to go back to less invasive and more transparent business models which people can stomach.
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 17
    nubus said:
    I'm tired of gatekeepers breaking business models as they please. Meta/Facebook completely removed Groups API with v19.0 and with that integrations and companies that had built plugins around that API (https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/05/meta-cuts-off-third-party-access-to-facebook-groups-leaving-developers-and-customers-in-disarray/

    We have Google planning to deprecate some cookies. Not to limit tracking but to force companies to do tracking through Google Advertising Manager with PPID.

    And we have Apple being so tired of creators that editing the products from publishers is fine with Apple. 

    Content can be financed either by ads and/or by paywall. Removing ads without paying is stealing. Surely there must be legal limitations to tracking etc. and users should have the option to avoid tracking by paying. But to let customers skip payment and modify products shouldn't be allowed. And yes... the first digital device from Jobs/Woz allowed people to call long distance without paying. To see something similar from Apple today is not OK.

    Are businesses willing to assume full liability if their websites serves malware from an infected ad network?
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