The major online ad organizations are urging Apple to retreat from its "unilateral and heavy-handed" decision to revise Safari's privacy settings.
"Safari’s new 'Intelligent Tracking Prevention' would change the rules by which cookies are set and recognized by browsers," the American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Network Advertising Initiative write in a letter to Apple.
"Apple's unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love," the organizations write.
The groups are responding to Apple's decision, announced in June, to revise Safari's default settings. The Safari browser has long blocked cookies set by ad networks and other third parties by default.
Safari's new settings will affect companies that the cookies set directly by publishers by deleting some of them after 30 days. The change appears aimed at preventing tracking by companies that use first-party cookies to get around Apple's block on cookies set by third parties.
The online ad industry's self-regulatory code allows online behavioral advertising by default: The code calls for companies to notify consumers about online data collection across sites, and to allow consumers to opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads.
Apple's default settings, by contrast, aim to block behavioral advertising unless consumers affirmatively enable tracking.
The browser update is expected to roll out later this month.
The ad groups argue that Safari's new treatment of cookies will amount to an "amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the Internet."
They are asking Apple to "rethink" its approach -- which, the groups say, risks "disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services."
Dan Jaffe, ANA executive vice president for government relations, says consumers shouldn't have to change their default browser settings to receive behaviorally targeted ads.
"As of now, Apple is an outlier, and we think they should be an outlier on this," Jaffe says. "To the extent that we can pressure them to reconsider this, we will," he says.