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The privacy PR war among big tech is taking shape

What happened?

Some big tech companies are more explicitly taking a stance on data-harvesting activities in favor of privacy, resulting in advertising-based companies being increasingly cornered. Apple has blocked internal iOS applications of Facebook and Google, after it turned out that they had been used to collect data from customers, albeit with the users’ consent. This was after Apple publicly criticized the “data-industrial complex” and pled for a data-broker clearinghouse. In that vein, Microsoft is reportedly working on a solution code-named “Bali” that should give users control over their personal data. Moreover, Microsoft has been actively improving its privacy precautions and has become an advocate for regulating data-harvesting practices.

What does this mean?

Although Apple has been emphasizing its focus on privacy for a while, it has become more explicit in attacking competitors that do not align with their stance on privacy. Especially at a time when ecosystems are taking shape, tech companies will increasingly challenge each other on their trade-offs. In response to Apple’s public attack of Facebook’s data-harvesting practices, Mark Zuckerberg defended his business by highlighting Apple’s exclusive pricing.

What’s next?

Going forward, we can expect that companies that rely less on advertising and data-harvesting will go on the offensive more. With Apple blocking applications, it seems that the discussion over privacy has been taken to a next level, where actions with real consequences are not shunned. Consequently, it is not unlikely that companies like Apple and Microsoft will put their weight behind the development of data vaults, data clearinghouses and vendor relationship management tools, with the aim to frustrate their ad-driven competitors.