Promoting Safari's privacy on iPhone, Apple's new billboard takes a subtle jab at Google Chrome

Promoting Safari's privacy on iPhone, Apple's new billboard takes a subtle jab at Google Chrome
Image credit-SFGATE

Per SFGATE, Apple has put up a new ad on a widely visible billboard it has in San Francisco above 9th Street and Brannan Street and the sign seems to take a little shot at Google. Showing a woman holding an iPhone 15 up to her face, the words above her say, "Safari. A browser that's actually private." Underneath in smaller print, the sign says, "Privacy. That's iPhone." While there is no direct reference to Google, Apple might as well have mentioned Google's Chrome Browser on the billboard.

Who could forget Apple's billboard on the side of a building that overlooked the Las Vegas Convention Center during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). That ad took an iconic saying about Vegas and turned it into a statement about iPhone privacy. "What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone," the sign said surely catching the attention of many who attended the CES that year. Apple was mocking the famous line about Sin City that says, "what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas."

While court documents indicate that Google paid Apple $20 billion in 2022 to be the default search engine for Safari users, with Apple owning the browser itself and not Google, the former is the one that gets to decide what user data is trickled down through third-party websites ending up in the hands of advertisers. In April, Google agreed to settle a Class Action suit brought by Chrome users who claimed that they were tracked by Google even while using Incognito mode. The latter is supposed to keep your browsing history off your phone. Google said that data it obtained from users running Incognito mode was never individualized.

The settlement did not include a monetary payout from Google to the Plaintiffs who insisted that they wanted to keep their individual rights to sue Google. But the company was forced to add more disclosures including one on the splash screen that appears at the start of every browsing session in Incognito mode. The court also demanded that for the next five years,  Google make a change to Incognito mode that allows users to block third-party cookies by default.

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The settlement also notes that "This change is important given Google has used third-party cookies to track users in Incognito mode on non-Google websites. This requirement ensures additional privacy for Incognito users going forward while limiting the amount of data Google collects from them."

On Monday, Google spokesperson Scott Westover told SFGATE, "We believe users should always be in control, which is why we’ve built easy-to-use privacy and security settings directly into Chrome." No matter what Google says, for the moment, at the interchange of Interstate 80 and Highway 101 in San Francisco, rising well above the nearby buildings, Apple's billboard gives it the last word.

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