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Apple reportedly rejecting 'cookie tracking' apps in push for its Ad Identifier

post #1 of 26
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Apple is reportedly denying apps that use "cookie tracking" methods from entering the iOS App Store, suggesting that the company may be making a more aggressive move to have developers use its first-party Advertising Identifier technology.

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Citing industry sources, TechCrunch claims Apple's App Review team is actively rejecting software from developers that leverage so-called ?cookie tracking? technology, otherwise known as ?Safari flip-flop? or ?HTML5 first party cookies." The method was instituted as an alternative to unique device identifier (UDID) tracking, which ad servers once used to target specific audiences in generating pricing models.

In 2011, privacy concerns prompted Apple to deprecate developer access to UDIDs, leaving advertisers without a direct way to target ads to specific users. At the time, some ad networks claimed apps not using the device-specific data would see a 24 percent decline in revenue.

After Apple began blanket rejections of apps using UDID tracking in March 2012, developers turned to secondary tracking methods using MAC addresses and OpenUDID assets. One of the alternatives was browser cookie tracking in mobile Safari.

Apple issued its own tool for advertisers, called the Advertising Identifier, though developers tended to stick with the older workarounds as they were attached to a single device and more difficult to disable.

From Apple's "About" page describing the Advertising Identifier:

iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal device identifier, that advertising networks will use to give you more control over advertisers' ability to use tracking methods.


To that end, Apple instituted an opt-out for the tracking tool with the "Limit Ad Tracking" settings button first seen in iOS 6.

It is unclear what Apple's intentions are for the recent rejections, though sources say the actions could signal a broader push to the Advertising Identifier method.
post #2 of 26
Less cookie tracking the better. I wonder how Google handles such policies with their app store.

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post #3 of 26
Very interesting
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Less cookie tracking the better. I wonder how Google handles such policies with their app store.

More cookie tracking the better ?

post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

More cookie tracking the better ?

Was there any doubt? I'd like to see where the user is given a checklist on what the info they'd be willing to divulge about themselves. M/F? Age group? State or region one lives in, etc. We all dislike advertising but many a business wouldn't survive without it.
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #6 of 26
At first the headline made me think Apple was favoring its iAds--a product Apple sells--and rejecting other ad systems! That seems a little extreme!

But now I realize it's not about iAds, just the user-tracking method--which Apple doesn't sell, and can be used with non-Apple ad systems.

If a company can't stay in business just because users can CHOOSE to opt out of being tracked, then I'd be happy to see a competitor step into that business's place.

I don't object to ads in all cases. I don't even object to user tracking in all cases. I object to making it hard to opt out of.

I don't expect Google to agree with me 1tongue.gif
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

 
In 2011, privacy concerns prompted Apple to deprecate developer access to UDIDs, leaving advertisers without a direct way to target ads to specific users. At the time, some ad networks claimed apps not using the device-specific data would see a 24 percent decline in revenue.

 

People moan about Google, yet for years Apple allowed third parties to gather tons of information because of the availability of the UDID, and it was Apple's apps that had access to transmitting Contacts to third party servers without the user ever knowing.

 

 

After Apple began blanket rejections of apps using UDID tracking in March 2012, developers turned to secondary tracking methods using MAC addresses and OpenUDID assets. One of the alternatives was browser cookie tracking in mobile Safari.

 

It's just one alternative.  The ODIN project, which maps iOS WiFI MAC addresses, has given advertisers the equivalent of a UDID.

 

iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal device identifier, that advertising networks will use to give you more control over advertisers' ability to use tracking methods.


To that end, Apple instituted an opt-out for the tracking tool with the "Limit Ad Tracking" settings button first seen in iOS 6.
 
That user opt-out button does NOT prevent the advertiser from seeing the advertising identifier. They still get it.  All it does is set a flag, which the advertiser is voluntarily supposed to acknowledge by only serving untargeted ads.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Was there any doubt? I'd like to see where the user is given a checklist on what the info they'd be willing to divulge about themselves. M/F? Age group? State or region one lives in, etc. We all dislike advertising but many a business wouldn't survive without it.

 

This is the huge irony of all the ignorant rants about Google etc.

 

When our info was only in the hands of Apple or Google, it was safe.  Remember, advertisers never got to see that info... only Apple or Google saw and used it to serve targeted ad space that they anonymously sold to advertisers.

 

When advertisers resort to gathering their own information instead, there's not much that Apple or Google can do to stop it... although they sure want to, because that's lost revenue to them.

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

People moan about Google, yet for years Apple allowed third parties to gather tons of information because of the availability of the UDID, and it was Apple's apps that had access to transmitting Contacts to third party servers without the user ever knowing.

 

 

 

This is the huge irony of all the ignorant rants about Google etc.

 

When our info was only in the hands of Apple or Google, it was safe.  Remember, advertisers never got to see that info... only Apple or Google saw and used it to serve targeted ad space that they anonymously sold to advertisers.

 

When advertisers resort to gathering their own information instead, there's not much that Apple or Google can do to stop it... although they sure want to, because that's lost revenue to them.

 

This is all total BS.  You are so biased I don't know why you even bother to post on this site.  

 

Google is probably the number one user of tracking cookies world-wide and has violated it's own policies and statements on tracking users time and time again.  They have a non-existent privacy policy and will let the government look at all your stuff just for asking.  

 

Apple is at least *trying*.  Your constant criticism of them over every little detail as well as your endless "boosterism" for Google is tiring at best.  

post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

This is all total BS.  You are so biased I don't know why you even bother to post on this site.  

 

Everything I said was factual.   You're clearly emotionally involved.

Quote:
Google is probably the number one user of tracking cookies world-wide and has violated it's own policies and statements on tracking users time and time again.

 

I never said that Google didn't track people.  My whole point is that they do, but they keep that info to themselves, not sell it to third parties, like the Chicken Littles around here claim.

 

Quote:
They have a non-existent privacy policy and will let the government look at all your stuff just for asking.  

 

Actually, Google's privacy policy and Apple's privacy policy are almost exactly the same when it comes to letting the government look at our data.

 

Google:  "We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to:

  • meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request.
  • enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations.
  • detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
  • protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, our users or the public as required or permitted by law."

 

Apple:  "It may be necessary − by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence − for Apple to disclose your personal information. We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate."

...
"We may also disclose information about you if we determine that disclosure is reasonably necessary to enforce our terms and conditions or protect our operations or users. Additionally, in the event of a reorganization, merger, or sale we may transfer any and all personal information we collect to the relevant third party."
 

Quote:
Apple is at least *trying*.  Your constant criticism of them over every little detail as well as your endless "boosterism" for Google is tiring at best.  

 

As the article noted, Apple is most likely "trying" to keep third parties from stealing their ad business.

 

Hey, I'm not out to defend all of Google's actions.   I'm just pointing out info that the calmer, more thoughtful, readers might find useful when making up their own minds about what to think... instead of relying on internet myths and scare tactics.


Edited by KDarling - 2/25/13 at 8:51pm
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

This is all total BS.  

 

Google... have a non-existent privacy policy and will let the government look at all your stuff just for asking.  

 

Apple is at least *trying*.  

 

Actually, pretty much none of what he posted is BS.  It consists of well documented facts if you choose to look them up.  If you choose to refute it and get mad because it doesn't align with your glowing perception of Apple you are free to make that choice for yourself- but it makes you look a little silly refuting it as 'total BS'.

 

Google has a policy of sharing your stuff to the minimum extent required by law.  The problem isn't Google, it is the law.  Google demands warrants in every case that they can, but parts of the patriot act specify that law enforcement can view content not specifically on a users individual hard drive.  Anything in the 'Cloud' the government can pretty much walk all over by law.  Apple gives this information up as well.  It is required by *law*.   Google hates the law and tries to embarass the government about it to the extent they can.  They post how many requests each government makes, and how many required subpoenas, warrants etc.

 

If Apple were truly concerned about you, they would give you three options instead of the two they do give you:

Id For Advertisers (IDFA) Ad Tracking:     Off, Limit Tracking, Full tracking

Of the above options the one they do not give you is the ability to turn tracking off.  It is a little interesting.  They are preventing developers from gaining that same information by any other method except through Apple.  So while up to now Apple could claim some form of innocence by claiming all those evil companies were tracking you through cookies that Apple has no control over- now those companies can ONLY track you through the one permanent cookie that Apple assigns to you- and you do not have the option to turn that cookie off.  Because your Apple IDFA does not change, they can actually track you better than they could through arbitrary cookies.

post #11 of 26

The big issue here for Apple is that cookies can be set up to work in basically the same way as the UDID. Which means if someone wanted to they could set up a system to cross reference what little bits of information to build a bigger profile of users even if a name etc can't be out on it

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 #12 of 26

Everyone is a "calmer and more thoughtful" reader on these forums.

Are you insinuating that someone isn't?

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post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

People moan about Google, yet for years Apple allowed third parties to gather tons of information because of the availability of the UDID, and it was Apple's apps that had access to transmitting Contacts to third party servers without the user ever knowing.

 

 

 

This is the huge irony of all the ignorant rants about Google etc.

 

When our info was only in the hands of Apple or Google, it was safe.  Remember, advertisers never got to see that info... only Apple or Google saw and used it to serve targeted ad space that they anonymously sold to advertisers.

 

When advertisers resort to gathering their own information instead, there's not much that Apple or Google can do to stop it... although they sure want to, because that's lost revenue to them.

 

 

You have it all wrong. First, Apple at its heart is a hardware manufacturer that builds value into the hardware through software. It is not an advertising company. Yes, it relatively recently brought out iAds in a half hearted attempt to put a hurt to Google and provide a way for its developers making free apps to make some money. Apple, however, has never provided third party advertising on any of its online properties. Further, it has never dirtied up its desktops with third party junk like is common practice on the PC. On the other hand, Google provides free software to people in order to gather information on them, which in turn it uses to entice advertisers to buy more expensive ads. Google was fined by the government for bypassing Apple provided user settings in Safari to track users web movements. It also is being wishy washy about supporting the do not track feature other browser makers are supporting.

 

Apple's new measure is directed at Google, which dominates mobile advertising. It is putting some control back in user's hands. Apple through iAds also does not do targeted ads. 

 

If Apple was concerned about lost revenue from advertising it surely would have done a Google like move and placed advertising on its online services like iCloud. Apple could make a ton of money expanding iAds through its online services, and making iAds cross platform. Yet, it hasn't done this because people, not advertisers are its customers. 

post #14 of 26

Ive got GG on hold here - what do I do ?

Cue him in or keep him on hold ... ?

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

Ive got GG on hold here - what do I do ?
Cue him in or keep him on hold ... ?

Whatever you do, don't put him on Facetime.
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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Everything I said was factual.   You're clearly emotionally involved.

 

This is the tipoff that KDarling really is a troll. If you've pissed someone off a bit, nothing pisses them off more than telling them to settle down, don't get emotional, you aren't being rational. I think they teach this one at troll school because quite a few of them use it.

 

Funny stuff about everything he said being factual, though. lol.gif

post #17 of 26
I still wish Apple would would ban all ad networks on iOS other than iAds.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Apple's new measure is directed at Google, which dominates mobile advertising. It is putting some control back in user's hands.  

 

You're confusing websites, and native apps sold through the Apple App Store.  

 

This is about preventing native apps from using their own methods to track customers, instead of the official Apple method.  

 

As I pointed out, this is good for both Apple and the customer.  It is much better for us that Google or Apple have our info, than third party groups that have much less reason (and ability) to keep it private.

 

Quote:

Apple through iAds also does not do targeted ads.

 

Apple absolutely sells targeted ads through iAds:

 

 

Apple likely knows much more about many iOS users than Google does, because of the mandatory iTunes registration and solitary App Store, which gives them our addresses, credit info, app and media purchase histories, etc.

 

 

 

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

 

Actually, pretty much none of what he posted is BS.  It consists of well documented facts if you choose to look them up.  If you choose to refute it and get mad because it doesn't align with your glowing perception of Apple you are free to make that choice for yourself- but it makes you look a little silly refuting it as 'total BS'.

 

Google has a policy of sharing your stuff to the minimum extent required by law.  The problem isn't Google, it is the law.  Google demands warrants in every case that they can, but parts of the patriot act specify that law enforcement can view content not specifically on a users individual hard drive.  Anything in the 'Cloud' the government can pretty much walk all over by law.  Apple gives this information up as well.  It is required by *law*.   Google hates the law and tries to embarass the government about it to the extent they can.  They post how many requests each government makes, and how many required subpoenas, warrants etc.

 

If Apple were truly concerned about you, they would give you three options instead of the two they do give you:

Id For Advertisers (IDFA) Ad Tracking:     Off, Limit Tracking, Full tracking

Of the above options the one they do not give you is the ability to turn tracking off.  It is a little interesting.  They are preventing developers from gaining that same information by any other method except through Apple.  So while up to now Apple could claim some form of innocence by claiming all those evil companies were tracking you through cookies that Apple has no control over- now those companies can ONLY track you through the one permanent cookie that Apple assigns to you- and you do not have the option to turn that cookie off.  Because your Apple IDFA does not change, they can actually track you better than they could through arbitrary cookies.

 

 

The problem with companies like Apple and Google collecting too much user information is an issue for a variety of reasons. For instance, some companies, like Google, require the government to obtain a warrant or otherwise comply with a legal process to obtain information. That is at least in the US, as other countries have different laws. Some companies like AT&T and Verizon have set up portals where various government agencies can merely get your information without any Court order because no law prevents third parties from voluntarily turning over user information on request. AT&T was sued for giving the federal government a back door to all information going over its network. The EFF has a chart ranking US companies privacy policies concerning the government.  Google ranks pretty high and better than Apple. However, the rankings are sort of like some of the Green Peace rankings: they mean well but are speculating to a certain extent. Apple is a very private company, so it isn't as forthcoming about its policies concerning providing governments information, so it likely ranks lower. Yet, I also suspect Apple is more accommodating to the government then Google because Apple sells a lot of equipment to the government. 

 

According to Apple's own statements, ""iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal device identifier, that advertising networks will use to give you more control over advertisers' ability to use tracking methods. . . if you choose to limit ad tracking, advertising networks using the Advertising Identifier will no longer gather information to serve you targeted ads."

 

Apple's public statements in the matter seem to stand in contrast to what you wrote regarding tracking when Limited Tracking is selected. Apple is going to allow third party developers to give you ads, so some form of tracking is needed to do that. However, Apple isn't sharing customers names, email addresses, and location data like is shared on apps bought on the Google Play Store. 

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post
 

 


 

I agree Apple has more information about iOS users than Google at least when it comes to some information. Lots of websites use Google Analytics though, so Google probably has better information in certain areas such as with web traffic. I just trust Apple more with my information, at least when it comes to third parties, then Google. That really comes down to my relationships with Apple and Google and what both companies primary business concerns are. Apple's advertising efforts are limited to apps distributed through its app store. Historically it hasn't provided third party advertising on its online services and hardware. On the other hand, Google is all about advertising and I have had at least two gmail accounts hacked. Further, it is almost impossible to talk to a real person at Google. Not a problem with Apple. 

 

 

Your post showing Apple's tracking marketing is informative. Sometimes I confuse terminology. I know Apple engages in some forms of tracking, as it is required for a variety of reasons, to serve mobile advertising being one example. I find Apple's methods less egregious though then Google, which tries to tie web tracking, location data, voice and email analyzes to a real person identity. I also do not trust its security considering the amount of times I know people, myself included, who have had their accounts hacked. 

post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

According to Apple's own statements, ""iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal device identifier, that advertising networks will use to give you more control over advertisers' ability to use tracking methods. . . if you choose to limit ad tracking, advertising networks using the Advertising Identifier will no longer gather information to serve you targeted ads."

 

Apple's public statements in the matter seem to stand in contrast to what you wrote regarding tracking when Limited Tracking is selected. Apple is going to allow third party developers to give you ads, so some form of tracking is needed to do that. 

 

You're correct that Apple's public statements differ a bit from what actually happens in the code.

 

Apple uses wording that tends to make people think that the switch turns off the IFA.  It does not.  It simply sets a flag that the advertiser is voluntarily supposed to honor by not sending targeted advertising.


Apple's Advertising Identifier API for apps states the following about the advertisingTrackingEnabled flag:
 

"Check the value of this [flag] before performing any advertising tracking. If the value is NO, use the advertising identifier only for the following purposes: frequency capping, conversion events, estimating the number of unique users, security and fraud detection, and debugging. "

 

Unfortunately, what it actually does, is force advertisers to come up with alternative, and perhaps less private, methods of targeting ads.  That's one reason Apple is blocking HTTP based methods.

 

However, Apple isn't sharing customers names, email addresses, and location data like is shared on apps bought on the Google Play Store. 

 

True, although checkout has nothing to do with ads.  Moreover, iOS developers could get most of that info all on their own for years before Apple belatedly put a user warning on accessing Contact info.  There are plenty of examples of iOS apps (especially with third party ad APIs) sending personal information such as the user's phone id, age, gender, zip code, whether jailbroken, etc.

 

I think it's good that light is cast upon these things... it forces everyone to pay more attention, and for Apple and Google to tighten things up.

 

Again, the most important takeaway is that neither Apple nor Google sell private info to third parties. However, the government does have access, which can be worrisome if abused. (Insert personal opinion of government here.)  The question then is, which company keeps (not just scans and categorizes) more info on things we don't want the government to know?   

 

 

Regards.
post #22 of 26
I'm liking this trend away from "advertiser driven" cookies to the iAd system. An intermediary -- that looks out for it's "customer" -- in this case that is me, can prevent tracking across apps and consolidation of data. Advertisers only deserve to know very basic things like; did someone view this ad?, was it more than one person or the same person several times? and general demographic information.



Apple is smart to look towards the User Experience -- it's the best way they can compete with the other platforms. Windows got a black eye because of all the third parties that would bloat the system with shovelware and spyware -- a problem Microsoft created by squeezing all the profits out for the vendors.



In the end, as the market matures -- it won't be just the capabilities of mobile platforms that will keep customers loyal -- it's the loyalty of the platform to the customer. If Apple remembers that, they'll be the #1 phone of people who don't want to be tracked and terrorists cells. ;)
post #23 of 26

from the image in the original post, where is the "Advertising -> Limit Ad tracking" setting located?

 

Its not obvious to me where this setting is.

 

Thank you

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratsg View Post

from the image in the original post, where is the "Advertising -> Limit Ad tracking" setting located?

Its not obvious to me where this setting is.

Thank you

The key is the back button in the upper left corner. It's Settings » General » About.

I really wish you could use the Search feature to find a particular setting because it can be tricky at times to find what you're looking for in the Settings hierarchy. Even if it was just a search option within the Settings app itself that would show you a link to it and a rundown in small, grey text below the button so you can learn where it is yourself.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratsg View Post

from the image in the original post, where is the "Advertising -> Limit Ad tracking" setting located?

 

Its not obvious to me where this setting is.

 

Thank you

 

I have it.

 

settings->general->about->advertising

 

I figured it would be under privacy, or web settings.

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratsg View Post

I figured it would be under privacy, or web settings.

 

Note that for pre-iOS 6 users, they have to go to an Apple link to turn off targeted iAds (and cannot turn off targeted third party ads).

 

See this Apple support document.

 

As that document points out, this doesn't stop ads.  (And I would note that it's doubtful that it stops any data collection.)   It just makes the ads less relevant to your interests.

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