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Quick privacy fix: How to stop iPhone apps from tracking you

Millions of Apple fans woke up to the exciting notification that iOS 14.5 is available for their device. The update has been much discussed over the last few weeks, as it includes a rather vital security update. Tap or click here to download iOS 14.5 and unlock a powerful new privacy feature.

Bundled with the new software is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) that allows users to specify which apps can track their online behavior. If you don’t want any personalized ads or apps to use your data, it can be switched off completely.

Among new emojis and different Siri voices, iOS users were most looking forward to ATT being implemented. But the excitement was short-lived for some, as the option wasn’t available to them after updating.

Here’s the backstory

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency is aimed to give iOS users more control over their personal data and private information. Companies like Facebook and Google use your location, online habits and preferences to serve you personalized ads.

For that to work effectively, you must hand over some personal details. This often happens when you download a new app and sign in to it with your Google or Facebook account. Your information can also be sold to third-party advertisers.

By giving you a choice through ATT, you have the power to allow or deny any app from collecting or using your data. You won’t get personalized results or targeted advertising, but your data will be safe from prying eyes.

For app developers, there is no way around this. Apple implemented a mandate that required all apps to be compliant with ATT – or face being removed from the App Store.

After you have downloaded iOS 14.5, ATT can be activated by going to Settings, then tapping on Privacy, selecting Tracking, and toggling the Allow Apps to Request to Track off.

The thing is, not everyone received the ATT feature with iOS 14.5. But why?

Why can’t I activate it?

The update is just over 24 hours old, and it has already introduced a bug. According to several online reports, many users can’t activate ATT even though they are on the current iOS version. Following the steps above, ATT is visible, but the toggle switch is greyed out.

At the time of writing this post, there wasn’t a clear indication of why this is happening. But a few theories have emerged.

The leading theory is that it’s tied to the Personalized Ads option on the device. When activated, ATT will be unavailable. This has, however, been proven to be false on several occasions.

Another theory has pointed to the age of the device user. If the user has indicated that they are younger than 18, the feature could also be deactivated. Apple hasn’t responded to the claims, and it’s uncertain if a fix to the update is being planned. We’ll let you know of any further developments.

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