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Apple isn't yet policing iPhone adware/spyware rules

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Apple instituted new rules in its iPhone 4 SDK designed to protect user privacy, but the company may not yet be enforcing those rules as they appear to apply against competing ad networks such as Google's AdMob.

The new iOS 4 user privacy rules, known as section 3.3.9, specify that App Store developers "may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent, and then only under the following conditions:

"The collection, use or disclosure is necessary in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the use of the Application. For example, without Apples prior written consent, You may not use third party analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.
"The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes."

In addition to safeguarding users' data from adware and spyware threats, the new language appeared to be clearly aimed at preventing ad networks owned by competing "mobile operating systems or development environments," (wording that would include Google's AdMob) from collecting private user data, device data, and location data for any purpose, including targeted advertising.

Independent ad networks are allowed to collect a limited amount of data solely for the purpose of refining targeted advertising. No apps are allowed to collect general data from iOS users and send this to third parties for general analysis, even when the data is aggregated and not personally identifying.

The new rules were prompted in part by data collected by Flurry Analytics, which used third party apps embedded with its code to spy out new hardware Apple engineers were using. When that data was published, Apple executives got angry that apps on their own platform were collecting device identifiers and other private data without their knowledge.

New limits aimed at Google

Apple is also obviously not excited about Google's AdMob acquisition, which enables its most tenacious competitor in the smartphone arena to collect lots of information about iOS users and their buying habits and device use, and then use this data to enhance its own Android OS and Marketplace.

However, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple does not yet appear to be enforcing these rules.

"Software developers say their new and updated applications are getting approved by Apple," the Wall Street Journal said, "even though the apps are enabled to serve ads by third-party ad networks such as Google's Mobile Adsense and AdMob."

The Journal wrote that the fact that "apps with third-party ad services are still getting approval into the App Store could take the pressure off of Apple" related to Federal Trade Commission's scrutiny of Apple's App Store dealings.

SDK limits don't ban AdMob, just adware and spyware activities

At the same time, there's nothing in the SDK guidelines that prevents Google's AdMob from placing ads in developers apps; it's only spyware data collection for analytics or location-based advertising (and other targeted advertising based on users' private data) that Apple prohibits competitors like AdMob from harvesting from iOS users.

This does not prevent AdMob from acting as a middleman broker to simply place ads in developer's apps; it just defeats much of the analytical value of the data that Google otherwise collects from users, in most cases without their knowledge or opt-in consent. Google's banner ads do not ask permission before collecting the user's device ID or obtaining other private data directly from the app.

In contrast, Apple outlined its own privacy policy regarding its use of user location data and other unique information related to its own iAd program in the App Store. That notice, which users had to review before downloading additional apps, outlined how to turn Location Services off and how to opt out of any data collection used to personalize the ads iAd presents.

The Journal report did not address user data privacy issues or the industrial espionage Apple is seeking to prevent. It did however note that at least some developers were hesitant to test Apple's SDK rules on user privacy.

Scott Dunlap, the chief executive of NearbyNow Inc., which develops apps for media companies like Condé Nast Publications, told the Journal, "We stayed away from adding anything other than the iAd network," noting that Apple's iAd program was more lucrative than other ad networks.
post #2 of 11
Google is so pissed. They need to spy so they can target their dang ads. Remember - Google is an advertising company not a tech company.
2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

Google is so pissed. They need to spy so they can target their dang ads.

How does Apple target ads?
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

Google is so pissed. They need to spy so they can target their dang ads. Remember - Google is an advertising company not a tech company.

Google is an information collection and control company. Best to think of them as a private intelligence agency, like the NSA, that is also able to exert control over what information people have access to. They currently monetize that mainly through advertising but when the growth runs out there, they will certainly leverage what they have in other ways. Right now they are looking to take over the travel information industry, which streamlines nicely with their overall strategy.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

Google is so pissed. They need to spy so they can target their dang ads. Remember - Google is an advertising company not a tech company.

Google should be pissed. That section of the developer's agreement might as well just say Google. Anyone with half a brain knows that's exactly who Apple was targeting with that clause. And since Apple conveniently excluded themselves from that clause, that hardly seems like a level playing field.

As for targeted ads, if I'm going to have to deal with them anyway, I'd rather see things that might actually interest me.

And Google is BOTH an advertising company and a tech company.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Google should be pissed. That section of the developer's agreement might as well just say Google. Anyone with half a brain knows that's exactly who Apple was targeting with that clause. And since Apple conveniently excluded themselves from that clause, that hardly seems like a level playing field. ...

Actually, it creates two level playing fields. A level playing field among mobile ad companies and a level playing field among smartphone companies. Google simply finds themselves in a bad position because they decided to become both. AdMob+Android was bad strategy on their part.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Google should be pissed. That section of the developer's agreement might as well just say Google. Anyone with half a brain knows that's exactly who Apple was targeting with that clause. And since Apple conveniently excluded themselves from that clause, that hardly seems like a level playing field.

As for targeted ads, if I'm going to have to deal with them anyway, I'd rather see things that might actually interest me.

And Google is BOTH an advertising company and a tech company.

Apple phone, Apple rules. Level playing field, since when did this have anything to do with capitalism? And why in the hell does Apple have to allow any app or service or anything on the devices they produce?

As for Google being a tech company, you are right in that they do have technology and they do use it and they do sell it, but you are wrong in one big way - they deal with and in technology for one reason, so they can sell more ads. That's the only reason they do what they do.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Actually, it creates two level playing fields. A level playing field among mobile ad companies and a level playing field among smartphone companies. Google simply finds themselves in a bad position because they decided to become both. AdMob+Android was bad strategy on their part.

The more I read you recurring spin, the more I laugh. To affirm that buying AdMob was a bad strategy from Google just because Apple is playing the anti-competitive card again (*) is just plain nonsense.

(*) See the bully change of legal terms to forbid Adobe users from creating iPhone apps with their not-Apple-approved tools... Lamentable.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sensi View Post

The more I read you recurring spin, the more I laugh. To affirm that buying AdMob was a bad strategy from Google just because Apple is playing the anti-competitive card again (*) is just plain nonsense.

(*) See the bully change of legal terms to forbid Adobe users from creating iPhone apps with their not-Apple-approved tools... Lamentable.

The more I read of people thinking Apple should allow Google to spy on the iOS platform as a whole using AdMob as a trojan horse, the more I realize there are a lot of clueless people* out there.

(*) who seem to be clueless about a lot of things... very lamentable.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Google should be pissed. That section of the developer's agreement might as well just say Google. Anyone with half a brain knows that's exactly who Apple was targeting with that clause. And since Apple conveniently excluded themselves from that clause, that hardly seems like a level playing field.

As for targeted ads, if I'm going to have to deal with them anyway, I'd rather see things that might actually interest me.

And Google is BOTH an advertising company and a tech company.

They should be worried. They are only a bookmark change away from irrelevance. If they fail to monetize their brand beyond anything more meaningful than a 'free' site used for search, their party is over.

They overpayed for AdMob and it looks like they may fail to recoup that amount in ad business. AdMob sales on Android aren't exactly impressing anyone. By ripping off Apple's iPhone they've lost the overwhelming majority share of AdMob's business. Their overall business strategy is horribly fragmented. Right now all eggs are on Android, which is stumbling like Eric Schmidt after two peach daiquiris and the $500/hour 'corporate escorts' he's so fond of.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sensi View Post

The more I read you recurring spin, the more I laugh. To affirm that buying AdMob was a bad strategy from Google just because Apple is playing the anti-competitive card again (*) is just plain nonsense.

(*) See the bully change of legal terms to forbid Adobe users from creating iPhone apps with their not-Apple-approved tools... Lamentable.

You can make Apple's intentions out to be anything you want really. Given their history as a company though I'm quite inclined to believe that their decisions regarding Adobe and the data collection really are intended to better the user experience.

Adobe has already proven they aren't very good at efficiency or quality in a timely manner so who knows what sort of jacked up programs would have begun turning out from their software and how they would have held up development on iOS. As for data collection I'm quite happy knowing they actually restrict what google does with my data. Come on, we're talking about a company that "accidentally" gathered data from people's open wifi networks while doing their sweeps to get stills for Street View on Google Maps. I don't trust Google with my data anymore than I trust a dog to stay out of the garbage.

You don't have to like how restrictive Apple is with their products, but it is their right to restrict their products.
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