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Android, iOS apps skirt privacy policy to share user data with advertisers

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
Modern smartphone apps are resurrecting the spyware trend that plagued the web ten years ago, but today's users are often unable to do anything to block their demographic data from being used to enhance the advertisements they see.

A report by the Wall Street Journal, part of a series examining privacy issues in computing and in particular the web, examined 101 popular smartphone apps for both iOS and Android devices to find what data they were sharing with advertisers.

The study found that more than half (56) sent the devices' unique serial number to advertisers for tracking purposes, while 47 made some use of users' location data. Five of the apps sent users' "age, gender or other personal details" to outside sources.

In some cases, this data is purposely entered by the user for reasons related to the apps' functionality, and some apps do outline that this data is also used for advertising purposes.

The Journal did not specify how it selected the apps that it tested or whether the roughly 50 apps on each platform represented a comparable selection, but it did note that "among the apps tested, the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system."

The report also pointed out that not all apps were available for Android, including the company's own news app. "Because of the test's size," the report stated, "it's not known if the pattern holds among the hundreds of thousands of apps available." Apple lists over 300,000 apps for iOS devices, while Android's catalog of apps, ringtones and wallpapers is greater than 100,000 titles.

Mobile adware here to stay, hard to avoid

The findings might be news to some smartphone users, who are rarely presented with simple, straightforward information about individual apps' privacy policy. However, the use of unique device identifiers, location and demographic data to "enhance ad results" are have become core foundations of the mobile ad industry.

The report cited Michael Becker of the Mobile Marketing Association as saying, "in the world of mobile, there is no anonymity," and noting that the mobile phone is "always with us. It's always on."

Unlike desktop computers, mobile devices such as smartphones don't generally allow users to delete individual cookies created by advertisers or install firewall security software that can block apps' requests to forward the users' personal data to outside companies.

The significant revenues tied to advertising are also pushing some vendors to relax individuals' privacy protections in order to maximize profits, a situation reflecting the history of adware on desktop PCs.

A history of adware

Adware began infecting PCs in the mid 90s, particularly as the web helped connect users to networks in a way that also made them easy to reach with ads. Platform vendors readily embraced the new avenues for revenues adware presented, with Netscape inventing web browser "cookies" as a way for web site owners to track visitors, while Microsoft's Windows 98 turned the PC desktop into an overt billboard for advertisers.



On page 2 of 3: Ads pop the web

Ads pop the web

In 2001, Apple jumped on the ad-supported software bandwagon by including web-like banner ads within Sherlock, its specialized search engine app for the web. That experiment didn't last long, and the company has since shunned ad banners within its desktop software.

Update: A reader notes: "Sherlock was a parallel searching technology, back in the days before Google you had to search more than one engine to get what you were looking for. With Sherlock you got all your results in one place without even opening your web browser.

"This of course would reduce the number of page views a search engine would get so Apple implemented that if you clicked on a result from a certain search engine, you would be delivered a banner ad from that search engine. If they hadn't most search engines would of blocked Apple from using their sites as they would get no advertising revenue and be unable to survive.

"Apple had their own search channel for searching the Apple.com website and Apple made up their own ads for it, but if you used Sherlock to search your hard drive (Sherlock was the find application for Mac OS 8.5 thru to Mac OS 9.2.2) there was no banner advertising or even a empty box, no ads were displayed on local search results."

Microsoft began bundling Alexa website tracking software on all new Windows PCs and in 2005 opened talks to acquire Claria, the vendor behind Gator, the web's most notorious adware trojan horse. While negotiating the acquisition, Microsoft silently removed Claria's products from the blacklist of malware that Windows AntiSpyware had previously recommended for quarantine.

However, a backlash against adware and spyware tactics began to gain momentum after a series of media reports brought public attention to web cookies and their ability to allow advertising companies to remotely track their activities on the web. Microsoft subsequently broke off talks with Claria as a new kind of subtle, contextual advertising, popularized by Google, fell into fashion as the public largely rejected the idea of being tracked by advertisers.

The controversial subject of user privacy continues to receive attention, with the White House issuing a memoranda this summer that "calls for transparent privacy policies, individual notice, and a careful analysis of the privacy implications whenever Federal agencies choose to use third-party technologies to engage with the public."

However, particularly since Google's acquisition of web cookie-centric ad vendor DoubleClick in 2008, online and mobile advertising has trended back towards user tracking rather than the kind of contextual relevancy Google pursued through most of the previous decade. Advertisers want to reach specific audiences, and the only way to do that effectively involves being able to track users by their demographic identity and by following their activities and location.



On page 3 of 3: iOS 4 attacked for limiting adware creep, Google fights for mobile adware

iOS 4 attacked for limiting adware creep

Recognizing the potential for mobile devices running third party software to exploit users' privacy, Apple has adopted an increasingly strict privacy policy for iOS, which forbids software makers from collecting private information, including location data, and using this for any purpose other than crafting anonymously relevant advertising. Additionally, Apple insists that app makers clearly disclose the information they collect; the company threatens to remove apps that fail to follow its policies.

As a mobile advertiser, Apple also has a privacy policy that it applies to its own platform. It enables users to opt-out of ads that use location data to refine their relevancy. In addition to opting out of iAd location-based ads, Apple also enables iOS users to turn off Location Services universally, or to switch off the ability of individual apps to request location data. Apps must also ask the user for permission to look up their location.

These efforts to protect users, which have not been duplicated by other mobile platforms, were targeted earlier this year in a report by David Sarno of the LA Times, which caused panic after it suggested Apple was tracking iPhone users' "precise" locations in some radical new way that other devices weren't, and incorrectly assumed that users were powerless to do anything about it.

In iOS 4, Apple enabled iAd and other independent ad networks to collect private information, but the company limits this data collection exclusively for use in improving ad relevance. Apple's SDK rules specifically forbid developers from including code in their apps that would forward private user information to third parties for any other reason, something the company's chief executive Steve Jobs characterized as granting users "freedom from programs that steal your private data."

Sarno's report resulted in a US Congressional inquiry into Apple's privacy policy, to which the company responded, "Apple does not share any interest-based or location-based information about individual customers, including the zip code calculated by the iAd server, with advertisers. Apple retains a record of each ad sent to a particular device in a separate iAd database, accessible only by Apple, to ensure that customers do not receive overly repetitive and/or duplicative ads for administrative purposes."

Google fights for mobile adware

Critics of Apple's privacy policy have claimed the company is trying to kill rival ad networks on the iOS platform by preventing other ad networks from harvesting users' private data, such as their GPS location, as they display ads within apps. Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt said Apple's ad restrictions were "discriminatory against other partners," including Google's own AdMob, which competes against Apple's iAd for mobile revenue.

Android does not appear to have any restrictions on the private user data that apps can forward to third parties. Google also does not have an app approval process like Apple's App Store. This has led to malware attacks from apps listed in the Android Market, which have destroyed users' data, installed adware and sent spam to contacts email accounts.

The lack of platform-wide privacy policy enforcement on Google's Android has also resulted in developers collecting inappropriate data, including users' phone numbers and potentially voicemail passwords, without users' knowledge or consent.

Known occurrences of the misuse of private data within Android apps are based on independent testing of individual apps, and is not exhaustive. Apps may reach widespread circulation for months before their actual activities are discovered, as there is no curation of Android Market provided by Google and there is nothing preventing the distribution of malware outside the official Android software store.

Google's Android platform is also more susceptible to pressure from adware proponents because a much greater percentage of Android software is ad-supported rather than purchased outright by the end user.

The developer behind "Angry Birds" noted that ad-supported software is "the Google way," and recent market data by Distimo indicates that Android's app catalog has roughly twice the number of free apps as other popular platforms, thanks to Google's policies promoting ad-supported software.
post #2 of 64
Unbalanced as always .

You could also say on iOS there is no guarantee to know how the data is used.
There is just an obscure approval process... hope there are no flaws but nobody knows anyway.

On the other hand on Android you know exactly what kind of data the application is able to access when you install it.

So if one installs an application that wants location access but does not have any location based functionality its pretty obvious what the location access is for .
It's a lot more transparent than for example windows (Thinking about worms and address books).
post #3 of 64
Quote:
something the company's chief executive Steve Jobs characterized as granting users "freedom from programs that steal your private data."

Programs don't steal data; people do. And because private data are being gathered, unscrupulous people can still steal it, incompetent people can still leak it, and an ignorant, unwitting public can still give it up.
post #4 of 64
I wonder if Adobe Flash based cookies are used in Android?

If so does visiting a website containing Flash pop up a window asking for permission to install them and giving details of what they will be used for.

Or are Adobe and the companies that use them hoping that they will fly under the radar and be unnoticed and ignored as they were on PC's before their discovery buried deep in Adobe's applications folders.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #5 of 64
This is how big companies go down. I'm not talking about scandal, but about contradicting priorities.

If all you have to worry about is making the best cellphone, then no worries. But if you're a huge company with many arms, then you have to make the best cellphone *subject to* it only playing the media from your media arm, and *subject to* having a UUID to keep your advertising arm happy, etc.

And then suddenly you wake up one day and your best is not *the* best, and some small, focussed company is making you look stupid.
post #6 of 64
Sure Apple & Google will come up with a fix
post #7 of 64
I've read that Microsoft plan to bake "tracking protection" directly into IE9.

Of course people have been able to replicate this functionality for years with 3rd party plug-ins or firewalls, but the idea of a major browser vendor offering specialized "tracking protection" directly in their application is a trend I think will be hard to ignore. Will we end up seeing "tracking protection" baked directly into the OS - both desktop and mobile?

I'm not sure what Google's reaction to this will be. I would assume their revenue model would take quite a hit.
post #8 of 64
Ok... tracking me is one thing. I gave up that type of privacy when I opted for a credit card, but the minute some advertising concern starts using up my mobile cell phone minutes sending me ads, is the day I start a class action lawsuit!!!
post #9 of 64
I hope Apple pulls all the offending apps and further investigates the rest. It would be a very quick lesson if Pandora was pulled. Remember, pulling means all current copies are disabled.

The reason I will never have a gmail account is that I do not trust Google to not track my email, and read it looking for advertising info. This is what they wanted to do when they launched gmail. I am not sure if they ever gave this up or not.
post #10 of 64
This post is interesting and the best way to prevent is to refuse data location but you won't have many features working on your phone like this.
For me the best way would be to use pay software. Everyone wants a free soft but these companies need money and ads is an important source of money.
So pay your softwares to small companies not big ones and you will have less problems
post #11 of 64
If I've chosen to use an ad-supported app, I'd prefer to see ads that are relevant to me. It's frustrating to be using the LA Times app and see constant ads beseeching me to order home delivery of the paper, although I live in Sichuan, China. They could be making better use of that space.
post #12 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmmx View Post

The reason I will never have a gmail account is that I do not trust Google to not track my email, and read it looking for advertising info. This is what they wanted to do when they launched gmail. I am not sure if they ever gave this up or not.

Wow, deja-vu. Don't suppose you just read the 2 posts I posted on the Chrome OS thread yesterday? About how gmail indirectly opts in your friends info as well, whether they like it or not?

This is just one aspect, the whole area of tracking and profiling is a big deal, and Apple is no saint either. I'm tempted to repost here, since that thread was mostly dead and no replies followed, but I'll just post links unless someone thinks a repost is worthwhile.

Post #1: Facebook may be evil, but Google is far more scary. (also forgot to mention google-doubleclick here)
Post #2: Would you give your friend's contact info to a business without asking permission?

Y'know, I'll repost just the main question:

If you walked into, say, Best Buy, and the guy at the checkout counter said: "Hey, I see you're buying an XBox, so we have a special for you today. If you give us the names, addresses, phone #s and emails of 3 of your best friends, we'll give you $10 off your purchase!". I think most of you would laugh in their face, right? Would you even dream of doing this? (I really am curious, if you read this, I'd love your answer or comment )
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post #13 of 64
http://i.gizmodo.com/5138822/rogue-a...talling-adware

Is this the right link? I mean it works, but it isn't well formated and looks so web 1.0???

First page of the report didn't specifically state what % of ios and android apps were skirting privacy, so I assume they both were, even with Apple's checks??? Or did I miss it???
post #14 of 64
Why is it considered a bad thing for advertisers to get a little bit of data to help them better target their ads?

Advertisers save money, developers make more money with higher click through rates, and consumers, who have to see ads anyway, get to see ads for products they are more likely to be interested in.
post #15 of 64
that money ALWAYS overrides any user privacy. App developers (and Apple?) get a cut from advertising revenues, so there is a huge incentive to reveal users private data or any data they can get their hands on. "privacy policy" is probably ignored by apps, and Apple probably either doesn't care or can't find all of the misbehaving apps. Next thing you know they will manage to find your credit card info and start sending you stuff you never ordered.

Maybe someone needs to develop a real ad blocker for IOS and Android. Besides protecting your privacy it would cut down on your data usage and keep you from going over your monthly data cap.
post #16 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


"...the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system."



This is disgraceful. I thought that the App Store was there to protect us against spyware and other malware.
post #17 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

It's theft, as your information belongs to you, not to Apple, Google, or Facebook (who also pulls these stunts). And when I say it's theft, I mean that literally. I believe they can be prosecuted for it.

Apple's location based services show one way using a customer's personal information can be done legally. They ask your permission first before using the data. That kind of protection needs to be in place for all personal data.

There's nothing immoral or illegal about companies making money off of your information or tailoring your experience based on your information so long as they have your permission to use your information.

But just grabbing your junk is illegal.

And, I think there's a big opportunity for Apple here: an opportunity for them to get very serious about protecting personal information and championing privacy, and an opportunity to gain a big competitive advantage by positioning themselves on the consumer's side of an issue that's going to become very important to consumers in the very near future. As people become more and more aware of how their privacy is being violated and their every action tracked, the coming backlash against Google, et al. is going to be huge. Better to be in a position to take advantage of it than to get hit by it.
post #18 of 64
Even though the iOS asks permission before using location-based services, I may want the app to know where I am (so I can find the closest restaurant), but I might NOT want the ads to know my location. And the app doesn't make that distinction.

On the other hand, if I'm using an app that has advertising, I might find it beneficial that if I have to look at the ads anyway, that it use my location information to provide me with relevant ads.

If I use a credit card (offline) and the CC company can make money by determining that across the board, people who eat at Joe's Steakhouse also tend to buy Apple Products, I don't really have a problem with that. I think people get over-paranoid about this. What I do have a problem with is taking very personalized information that can be tracked back to me. It's bad enough that sites like Amazon have a pretty much permanent record of every product you ever bought. They really should have a way that you can delete all that information from your profile (and I mean really delete it, not just delete it form your view.)

This is going to go either one of two ways: either people are going to choose to ignore all these privacy issues and the companies will do whatever they want with our data or this is going to blow up and they'll be privacy legislation, which won't get it right because Congress tends to be so dumb (and so influenced) on these matters.

And I think that there should be high school courses about privacy issues in the online world, because I think most people, especially young people, are tremendously naive about these things (until they get their identity stolen).

And I think there should be new naming standards for cookies where file names are easily identifiable and where the contents of cookies are easily readable and contain source identifying information about what program and what company the cookie is associated with that is human readable.
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by _kovos_ View Post

Unbalanced as always

very. 50-100 apps is not really a fair sample, particularly for iOS which has 300k

Also, for ios, were they all iAd using apps or was it a mix. Did any of the apps kick off what the request to send data that is supposed to be there per Apple rules etc

Also of the results, how much in each group is from each OS. 56 out of 101 is not the same as 'all 50 Android apps and 6 iOS apps'. And of that group sending serial numbers, which OS etc. An iAd sending my serial back to Apple is not the same as a google ad sending it to who knows whom

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #20 of 64
Online privacy, generally, is also an area where the government, if it's serious about security, really needs to wise up. By leaving this up to industry -- i.e., the classic fox guarding the hen house situation -- they increase the likelihood that academic and other groups will create, and consumers adopt, solutions that allow people to protect their privacy and anonymity online. (See, for example, this NYTimes article on Tor.) The more obfuscation and encryption available, the harder it will be for the NSA and similar agencies to detect/intercept messages with nefarious intent. In other words, allowing corporate privacy violations to continue unchecked ultimately threatens national security, as ways to block them and hide one's identity become more varied, more sophisticated, and more widely and easily used.

(And, yes, it might require rooting to employ these measures on smartphones, but it's exactly the people they want to keep an eye on who will be most aggressive about thwarting efforts to do so.)
post #21 of 64
PrivaCy in cydia has blocked this kind of thing for awhile while still allowing the app to know where you physically are without divulging info you don't want it to. I think it blocks all user info stored on your phone without borking the apps location function. I'd rather not have anything shared but where I physically am and I don't care about what somebe is trying to sell me, we have enough advertisement overload in our lives. If I get unsolicited mail/email I simply don't buy from that company. The one reason I got rid of SunTrust bank is because they sold my name and address to anyone willing to fork over the fee. I am NOT okay with someone getting my personal info unless I explicitly give it to them for the purist of tailoring a service to my interests.
post #22 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

And, I think there's a big opportunity for Apple here: an opportunity for them to get very serious about protecting personal information and championing privacy, and an opportunity to gain a big competitive advantage by positioning themselves on the consumer's side of an issue that's going to become very important to consumers in the very near future. As people become more and more aware of how their privacy is being violated and their every action tracked, the coming backlash against Google, et al. is going to be huge. Better to be in a position to take advantage of it than to get hit by it.

This sounds a tad idealistic since Apple themselves have recently opened up their own ad shop. If allowing users to safeguard their personal information in such a way is in the best interests of the company, they'll do it. If it isn't, they won't. The £££ signs are much further up the list of priorities than the customers' privacy.
post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrochester View Post

This sounds a tad idealistic since Apple themselves have recently opened up their own ad shop. If allowing users to safeguard their personal information in such a way is in the best interests of the company, they'll do it. If it isn't, they won't. The £££ signs are much further up the list of priorities than the customers' privacy.

Online privacy is poised to become a very big issue. Up to this point, most people haven't even been aware to the extent their privacy has been routinely violated -- how companies are engaged in widespread, systematic, wholesale cyberstalking. There will, increasingly, be consumer demand for protections, and, if the government doesn't mandate them, companies that take the lead in offering them will have a leg up on the competition. Privacy protection will become another marketing point, one which Apple, with little to none of their revenue derived from privacy violations, is in an excellent position to exploit for their advantage. It's not idealistic at all, it's good business and good PR.
post #24 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Online privacy is poised to become a very big issue. Up to this point, most people haven't even been aware to the extent their privacy has been routinely violated -- how companies are engaged in widespread, systematic, wholesale cyberstalking. There will, increasingly, be consumer demand for protections, and, if the government doesn't mandate them, companies that take the lead in offering them will have a leg up on the competition. Privacy protection will become another marketing point, one which Apple, with little to none of their revenue derived from privacy violations, is in an excellent position to exploit for their advantage. It's not idealistic at all, it's good business and good PR.

That would contradict entirely Apple's move into mobile advertising.
post #25 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

An iAd sending my serial back to Apple is not the same as a google ad sending it to who knows whom

I don't trust either one of them. You can try to OPT OUT of IAds Location tracking but it still doesn't stop Apple from tracking you. It's basically a worthless OPT OUT policy. It only stops the "relevancy" (local geography) of the iAds served to you. Whether you OPT OUT or not doesn't really matter, as long as Location is turned on, your Location is going to be tracked & reported. You're OPTING OUT of iAd relevancy, not OPTING OUT of Location tracking.

One of these days, a person on an iPhone known to be out of town thanks to Location "services," will have their home ransacked. It's only a matter of time.

We need a comprehensive OPT IN national policy, a strong one & stiff penalties -- not an OPT OUT thing, which in Apple's case, is pretty much ridiculous.
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post #26 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacAddicted View Post

This is disgraceful. I thought that the App Store was there to protect us against spyware and other malware.

Well not really. The Journal article is a bit over the top in throwing standard app ad practice (similar to how the web works) in with malicious spyware. "Sending" your device ID and cookie-like data to the ad network for use in creating generalized profiles that only result in you seeing ads targeted to your gender/age range/city isn't really on the same level as harvesting your phone number and sending it to China, or delivering your contacts for spam purposes, or anything along those lines.

In most cases, targeting advertising is a good thing. The WSJ's contention that iPhones "send more data" was rather weakly supported. What kind of data? More bits? More types of data? More personal data? They don't say, which makes the line rather meaningless.

The fact that Android apps are far more likely to be free/ad supported makes the claim that iPhones "send more data" particularly weak. Are there more iPhones using apps, rather than the web, given that there are a lot more useful iOS apps? There is more ad-related data being served in web apps than in paid apps, but the Journal isn't making any sort of equal, articulated comparisons.

Watch the video, makes the reporters sound like senior citizens talking about Twitter and Last FM. They don't seem to understand exactly what they're talking about. Mostly just sensationalism.
post #27 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_s View Post

Whether you OPT OUT or not doesn't really matter, as long as Location is turned on, your Location is going to be tracked & reported. You're OPTING OUT of iAd relevancy, not OPTING OUT of Location tracking.

Just having a cell phone means your location is tracked. Cell phone companies can even turn on your phone remotely, which is one way to re-enable MobileMe's Find My iPhone should the device get stolen and a theif turns it off to avoid detection. If you are using any computing device your IP is recorded and therefor your location. AI records your IP address just as they record whatever other "security" info you gave them.

I don't see Location Services themselves being a big issue, and certainly less of an issue than those that submit actual personal info to any number of sites. How many people use the same password or select few password for all their computing? How many put in real answers to security questions or the same false answers across all sites? How many people use real names and birthdays on sites? How many peopl post pictures of their homes, cars, spouse and children for the world to see? Out of all these things I'm just not concerned about letting FourSquare or TomTom know my location.
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post #28 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

It's theft, as your information belongs to you, not to Apple, Google, or Facebook (who also pulls these stunts). And when I say it's theft, I mean that literally. I believe they can be prosecuted for it.

Apple's location based services show one way using a customer's personal information can be done legally. They ask your permission first before using the data. That kind of protection needs to be in place for all personal data.

There's nothing immoral or illegal about companies making money off of your information or tailoring your experience based on your information so long as they have your permission to use your information.

But just grabbing your junk is illegal.

All that's happening is you are getting ads that are more likely to be relevant to your interests as opposed to ads that aren't as relevant. You're going to get the ads anyway. All that happens without being able to target ads is you'd have to get more ads for the developers to make the same money because advertisers won't pay as much per ad for untargeted ads as they will for targeted ads.
post #29 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't see Location Services themselves being a big issue....

It's two things that bug me which I consider "big issues":

(1) Apple tells people they can OPT OUT when quite clearly no one can ever OPT OUT. They need to stop trying to fool people, and come clean;

(2) It's not the services themselves that freak me out, it's the reporting & subsequent storage of the data.

I don't want Apple or any of their cute little developers knowing where I the hell I am at some given point. I don't care if they're evil or not, that's not the issue. I just don't want them to know. I want them to leave me the hell alone. Can't I buy Apple's product without their little beady eyes?

There's got to be a way the people of the United States can petition their government to make this mobile tracking system completely OPT IN.
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post #30 of 64
I'd argue these practices are not nefarious enough to be called "spyware"

Back during the deluge of spyware before there was much public consciousness about installing computer security software, almost all spyware was installed without the user's consent or as a trojan horse payload along with some other software (some stupid IE toolbar, mouse pointers, whatever). And this stuff would make infected computers unusable by slowing them down to a crawl

For these free iPhone and Android apps, the targeted advertising is simply the real payment for so-called "free" apps; nothing is every truly "free" in our society. And for app developers and ad-networks, an ad targeted to a specific narrow demographic is far more lucrative than an ad tossed across random devices

And this problem isn't going to go away as long as free apps exist. And even if Apple instituted a strict ban on apps sending data to ad networks, that's only going to financially harm the developers of free apps. That will greatly reduce the incentive to develop free apps for the iPhone platform, thereby also decreasing the number of free apps put out there. That also harms consumers


I don't want to be seen as being an apologist for these information harvesting practices, because i hate being tracked as much as the next guy. But it's no different from the tracking ads on desktop browsers: sites like Google, AI, the NYTimes, etc., have to pay for themselves somehow, and if users don't want to pay for access to the site, then users have to settle to being eyeballs for ad networks. There just is never a free lunch


Also, good article! Thank you mr. Dilger
post #31 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

It's theft, as your information belongs to you, not to Apple, Google, or...

But just grabbing your junk is illegal.

You touch my junk and I'll have you arrested!

http://abcnews.go.com/t/video?id=12153553

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post #32 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrochester View Post

That would contradict entirely Apple's move into mobile advertising.

Not at all, it would simply require them to show that mobile advertising doesn't require that ad viewers have their privacy violated constantly.
post #33 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by pwj View Post

I'd argue these practices are not nefarious enough to be called "spyware"

Call them whatever you like but privacy violations by cyberstalking privacy violators like Google have reached levels that old-fashioned desktop spyware creators never dreamed of. Nefarious, egregious, offensive, inappropriate, creepy, abusive... all of these adjectives apply.
post #34 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by alandail View Post

All that's happening is you are getting ads that are more likely to be relevant to your interests as opposed to ads that aren't as relevant. You're going to get the ads anyway. All that happens without being able to target ads is you'd have to get more ads for the developers to make the same money because advertisers won't pay as much per ad for untargeted ads as they will for targeted ads.

You either don't understand what's happening or are trying to mislead people into thinking that it's as innocuous as you describe. The problem, obviously, is not that they are using your location or some other ephemeral piece of data to determine what ad to show you. The problem is that they are storing that data in databases where it is linked to other data that represent your "profile". They track what you do on your phone, on your home computer, and even in other ways. They know your name and where you live, and probably more about your habits than even you do.

And, advertising has worked for years without advertisers being able to individually target people. But, if ending tracking lowers per ad payments, so be it. No one has a right to do something just because they are making money at it.
post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

You either don't understand what's happening or are trying to mislead people into thinking that it's as innocuous as you describe. The problem, obviously, is not that they are using your location or some other ephemeral piece of data to determine what ad to show you. The problem is that they are storing that data in databases where it is linked to other data that represent your "profile". They track what you do on your phone, on your home computer, and even in other ways. They know your name and where you live, and probably more about your habits than even you do.

And, advertising has worked for years without advertisers being able to individually target people. But, if ending tracking lowers per ad payments, so be it. No one has a right to do something just because they are making money at it.

Now you're just making stuff up. Show me one iOS app that is storing my name, address, and builds a database that tracks my other activity on my phone. (I really don't care about andriod because their marketplace allows anything at all.)

And advertising has always targeted demographics. You get different ads in sports illustrated than you do in soap opera digest. You get different ads when you watch NFL football than you get if you watch a lifetime movie. And in both cases if you are in one city watching your local cable network, you get some different ads than you would get in a different state.

For mobile devices, location data can be used to target ads similar to the way a cable company does. If you own a new restaurant, it would be a complete waste of money to send ads out to all cell phone users across the country. But if you could instead send ads to only cell phone users currently within a 5 mile radius of your new restaurant, it could be effective. Being able to do that generates more ad revenue, thus more money to pay for these free apps.

And if you don't want this, the solution is simple. Avoid all ad supported apps (and avoid android all together).
post #36 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

You either don't understand what's happening or are trying to mislead people into thinking that it's as innocuous as you describe. The problem, obviously, is not that they are using your location or some other ephemeral piece of data to determine what ad to show you. The problem is that they are storing that data in databases where it is linked to other data that represent your "profile". They track what you do on your phone, on your home computer, and even in other ways. They know your name and where you live, and probably more about your habits than even you do.

And, advertising has worked for years without advertisers being able to individually target people. But, if ending tracking lowers per ad payments, so be it. No one has a right to do something just because they are making money at it.

great post
this whole adware stealing and selling our data sucks
apple seems to fight back .

over time hordes of people will opt out altogether

if they can

peace

bruce
whats in a name ? 
beatles
Reply
whats in a name ? 
beatles
Reply
post #37 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by alandail View Post

Now you're just making stuff up. Show me one iOS app that is storing my name, address, and builds a database that tracks my other activity on my phone. (I really don't care about andriod because their marketplace allows anything at all.)

So, you're one of the tracking deniers? It's more or less common knowledge that online advertising companies build profiles including all of the information you mention on their "marks". Your position is analogous to maintaining the earth is flat.

Quote:
And advertising has always targeted demographics. You get different ads in sports illustrated than you do in soap opera digest. You get different ads when you watch NFL football than you get if you watch a lifetime movie. And in both cases if you are in one city watching your local cable network, you get some different ads than you would get in a different state. ...

Fine, let them target the ad based on the fact that it's going to an iPhone, as they have traditionally. It would even be OK for them to use location data as long as it were against the law for them to store that data. But, we all know the level of detail and invasiveness of tracking goes way beyond that, despite the attempts of some to obfuscate the issue.


Quote:
... And if you don't want this, the solution is simple. Avoid all ad supported apps (and avoid android all together).

The solution is simple, but yours is not the solution. The solution is to recognize that this sort of online stalking and profile building ought to be classified as a criminal activity, and to do just that. We as citizens of what is supposed to be a free society ought not have to tolerate this sort of violation of our privacy by anyone. Privacy and freedom go hand in hand, and without one the other cannot exist. Just because unscrupulous hucksters can make a buck off something doesn't mean it should be legal.
post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

So, you're one of the tracking deniers? It's more or less common knowledge that online advertising companies build profiles including all of the information you mention on their "marks". Your position is analogous to maintaining the earth is flat.

it's a common fear, not common knowledge, otherwise you'd be able to point to one iOS app that stores my name, address, and location history without my knowledge for advertisers. I didn't ask for a long list, I just asked for one. If it's common knowledge, naming one wouldn't be hard to do.
post #39 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by alandail View Post

it's a common fear, not common knowledge, otherwise you'd be able to point to one iOS app that stores my name, address, and location history without my knowledge for advertisers. I didn't ask for a long list, I just asked for one. If it's common knowledge, naming one wouldn't be hard to do.

You clearly know you are posing the question in a misleading way, and it's obviously your intent here to obfuscate the issue. Either that or you have absolutely no understanding of what you are talking about, which I seriously doubt. Your dishonesty on this topic is beyond transparent.

As we all know, the issue is not about individual apps doing this, it's about ad networks doing it. So, basically, for example, any app that uses AdMob to deliver ads is guilty of this offense.
post #40 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

You clearly know you are posing the question in a misleading way, and it's obviously your intent here to obfuscate the issue. Either that or you have absolutely no understanding of what you are talking about, which I seriously doubt. Your dishonesty on this topic is beyond transparent.

As we all know, the issue is not about individual apps doing this, it's about ad networks doing it. So, basically, for example, any app that uses AdMob to deliver ads is guilty of this offense.

You're claiming that admob has a database that includes my name, address, app history, and location history? So you're basically saying they are lying with their own stated privacy policy?

And what are they supposedly doing with this information? Where do they sell advertising that utilizes this information and exactly how are they collecting it? Where can I buy an ad that is targeted to, say, only people who have been to disney world in the past 2 weeks?

I can believe that I could somewhere buy advertising that targets people in Disney World right not, but don't believe for a minute that I could buy advertising to people who were there last week.
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