From left: Apple's Tim Cook, Erik Neuenschwander, Craig Federighi, Eddy Cue and Phil Schiller. Photos by Bloomberg. Art by Mike Sullivan
March 14, 2022 6:00 AM PDT

For years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been the most vocal privacy champion among all of big tech’s top leaders. But within Apple, a decision to curtail ad tracking of iPhone users in 2020 sparked an intense debate about just how far to push privacy changes poised to upend the digital advertising industry.

On one side of the discussions was Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief. He oversaw a team of privacy-minded engineers who wanted to curtail the powers of an Apple tool that unscrupulous advertising companies, mobile developers and data brokers were exploiting to track the behavior of iPhone users, according to people with direct knowledge of the discussions. On the other side were groups reporting to Eddy Cue, head of Apple’s services and advertising businesses, and Philip Schiller, then the company’s top marketing executive, who led its App Store. Cue's and Schiller's teams argued for more-cautious action against the tool, given that many developers relied on it for advertising revenue. Schiller's group also worried about potential damage to App Store revenues, though Schiller himself was in agreement with Federighi and his team, the people said.

In the end, the Apple leaders reached a solution. The company required app developers to ask users whether they wanted to allow their online activities to be tracked across websites and apps operated by companies other than the developer. Developers couldn’t use the tool anymore to track users who opted out but instead had to rely on an inferior system developed by Apple that better protected user privacy. For many companies in digital advertising, the impact of Apple’s changes—which the company began to enforce last April—has been seismic. That’s especially true for Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, which expects the changes to shave $10 billion off its revenues this year because of their impact on the company’s prodigious data collection practices.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The 1:1 policy
A Billionaire Couple Goes for Broke: How John and Laura Arnold Plan to Give It All Away
On Election Day, John and Laura Arnold found themselves deep in the lion’s den: a few blocks from the White House, working from the new Washington D.C. offices of their foundation, Arnold Ventures. The mood in town? “Jittery,” Laura said. Republicans were hoping for a big sweep of Congress; Democrats were trying to forestall the flood. The Arnolds were paying attention to...
Latest Briefs
 
DOJ Seeks Independent Examiner in FTX Case to Investigate Fraud Allegations
Amazon Entertainment Chief Jeff Blackburn to Exit Company
Galaxy Wins Bid to Buy Bankrupt Crypto Lender Celsius’ GK8 Unit
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Charlie Bell. Photo via Microsoft
Exclusive microsoft amazon
A Former Amazonian Hits Bumps in Push to Make Microsoft More Secure
When Microsoft last year recruited Charlie Bell, a top product engineering executive at Amazon Web Services, it was a major coup for the software giant.
Data Point google
Where Google Has Grown
Alphabet has doubled the headcount in its Google Cloud unit since early 2019, according to data obtained by The Information, outstripping Alphabet’s overall hiring growth.
startups venture capital
Six Investors Chasing Debt Deals During the Downturn
With equity investors dialing back and public markets frozen over, startups that need to raise money are short of options.
Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive
Marc Lore’s Kitchen on Wheels Startup Cuts Staff, Dials Back Delivery Ambitions
Wonder, a mobile kitchen and food-delivery startup led by Jet.com founder Marc Lore, has laid off 7% of its workforce, a company spokesperson said, as it attempts to overhaul its business.
The 1:1 policy
A Billionaire Couple Goes for Broke: How John and Laura Arnold Plan to Give It All Away
On Election Day, John and Laura Arnold found themselves deep in the lion’s den: a few blocks from the White House, working from the new Washington D.C.
Photo by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Opinion culture
Employees Aren’t the Only Ones Suffering From Burnout
We’re living in a split-screen world when it comes to burnout and the employee experience. On one side are all the investments CEOs and human resources executives have been making in recent years—and especially since the pandemic began—to support employee well-being and mental health.