No, Safari Will Not Block First-Party Analytics Tracking

No, Safari Will Not Block First-Party Analytics Tracking
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

At InfoTrust, our analytics consulting team has heard from a few clients who saw articles (like this) stating that Safari—in the latest Big Sur macOS update—will outright block Google Analytics. We want to make some clarifications, however, as these articles aren’t completely clear.

Screenshot from an AppleInsider post by Mike Peterson on June 23, 2020.

The screenshot provided in the linked article above likely refers to the fact that ITP flagged the google-analytics.com domain as a cross-site tracker and restricts its access to third-party storage⁠—not that it will actually block first-party Google Analytics tracking. Restricting this access to cross-site storage is more efficient, as it doesn’t lead to breakage as often as blocking the domains would.

The way that ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) works is based on algorithms; it is also on-device. There are no block lists or blocked domains in ITP. Basically, ITP flags a domain if it is determined as having cross-site tracking capabilities. This new feature of the Privacy Report makes the information available on the browser for the user to see. 

Google Analytics sends analytics hits with HTTP, and ITP doesn’t block HTTP requests. The Google Analytics domain is flagged here without any significant action going on in the third-party cookie, so it depends if the website will do cross-site requests that can be blocked. In other words, they do not block the Google Analytics code itself, but they don’t allow it to assign a unique identifier to the user and pass it from one website to another. That’s not what Google Analytics needs to track your websites, however; GA uses first-party tracking to track only your domain(s).

You can find the full details here on this latest update of the Privacy Report on Apple’s website, where it mentions clearly that the functions of this report are specific to private information and third-party trackers, but no actual blocking of the trackers:

  • “Added a Privacy Report that shows the trackers that Intelligent Tracking Prevention prevented from accessing identifying information.”

  • “Enabled full third-party cookie blocking, and the Storage Access API in Private Browsing mode.”

We will also be doing additional tests here an InfoTrust to confirm what impacts Big Sur macOS and Safari have on tracking, tags, and more.In the meantime, we encourage you to visit this article on our website detailing ITP impact and our ITP/ETP cookie rewrite solution.

More Questions?

Reach out to our expert consultants if you have more questions or concerns.

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Originally Published: June 24, 2020

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April 15, 2022
Originally published on June 24, 2020

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