Apple on Monday (June 4) unveiled new operating systems for its iPhones and computers with features designed to thwart secret trackers, such as those used by Facebook, to monitor people’s online activities.

The announcement by Apple comes amid a growing focus on protecting privacy following a Facebook data scandal and new rules being enforced by the European Union for online services.

Apple, kicking off its annual developers conference, appeared to be setting itself apart from Facebook, which has drawn the ire of privacy activists, and even showed how its software could prevent the social network from tracking users on Apple devices.

The upcoming versions of software powering iPhone and Mac computers will block the use of so-called “cookies” from Facebook “like” buttons that can follow people from one website to another, Apple said.

“Turns out ‘like’ buttons and ‘comment’ fields can be used to track you, so this year we are shutting that down,” Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi told a standing-room crowd of some 6,000 developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils macOS MojavePhoto: AFP

New MacOS Mojave and iOS 12 software to be released later this year will also make it harder to use trackers to create “unique fingerprints” by gleaning data about devices being used, according to Federighi.

“It will become dramatically more difficult for data companies to identify your device and track you,” Federighi said.

Enhanced privacy was part of a slew of improvements touted by Apple to developers, whose creations are key to the popularity of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

The conference kickoff came the same day the New York Times reported Facebook gave special access to device makers, including Apple, to personal data on social network users and their friends.

Facebook said it “disagreed” with the report and that the agreements with device makers…

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