It’s a scenario we often encounter when downloading new apps—personal or business: you load an app and get options to create an account, “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Google.” Both options make registration into that app seamless and easy for users, but these shortcuts also serve a specific purpose outside of a user’s ease to register—data tracking.
Single sign-on (SSO) extracts a “privacy toll,” where all the tracking information tied to the user’s social media or Google accounts are handed over. By using Facebook, Google or another social media login assistance, advertising data (among other pieces of information gathered from your browsing and phone use) is transferred from the social media platforms to the third-party app, allowing more data collection detailing email addresses, content preferences, demographical information and so much more. By linking all these third-party apps to social media platforms, developers are cashing in on how much data is attached to your online persona, following you around the web—and in your pocket.
A New Alternative
With the news that came out of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference last week, the technology giant is taking aim at user privacy by introducing a “Sign in with Apple” feature, which will mandatorily apply to all third-party apps with external login systems that are available on iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS. If an app developer allows users to sign in using third-party logins, they will be required to include another option as well.
What makes Apple’s SSO feature different is the anonymization of you, the user. When a user decides to login with Apple, they then have the choice to have a randomized, masked email address—unique to every use—that can be disabled and removed once a user is done with the app or decides to delete their account. While a user’s name is still given, the attached data associated with the user’s browsing habits, ad preferences, demographical information and other tracking data from across the web does not exist, since a new email address is given every time.
Event Professionals Brace for Possible Data Desert
“Big data,” as it’s called, is officially on notice, which affects a multitude of industries now playing the data game, including the meetings industry. Because this is a forced option for developers, users who care about their privacy—particularly in the wake of data breaches and the Cambridge Analytica scandal—may opt for choosing the anonymized version of themselves to use an app. That could lead to a shrinking base in which user data can be used by marketing and advertising teams. This isn’t the first of features to come from Apple that focus on user privacy and anonymization of data, and more may be coming, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“We focus on the user, and the user wants the ability to go across numerous properties on the web without being under surveillance,” Cook told CBS News. “We’re moving privacy protections forward. And I actually think it’s a very reasonable request for people to make.”
Planners who utilize event apps will have to comply quickly as this update will go into effect in fall of 2019. And if they are relying on data from the current practice, they may need to rethink their strategy.
Recent data breaches, including 2018’s Cambridge Analytica scandal involving data from Facebook and Marriott’s announcement that some Starwood data may have been compromised, turned eyes in the development world toward maintaining user privacy. Here are the top 10 biggest data breaches of 2018, according to cybersecurity giant Avast:
- Aadhaar: 1.1 billion users
- Starwood: 500 million users
- Exactis: 340 million users
- Under Armour: 150 million users
- Quora: 100 million users
- MyHeritage: 92 million users
- Facebook: 87 million users
- Elasticsearch: 82 million users
- Newegg: 50 million users
- Panera: 37 million users