Editorial: Mozilla's anti-Apple privacy petition call is misguided and unnecessary

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 15
Firefox developer Mozilla wants you to sign a petition claiming that Apple is helping third-party advertisers track what ads, videos, and apps you use -- but the iPhone maker is doing no such thing.

Yes.
Yes.


According to the Mozilla Foundation, makers of the Firefox web browser, Apple is helping advertisers build up a profile of you.

"There is a unique ID living on your iPhone right now that allows advertisers to track the ads on, the videos you play," it says, "and the apps you install." Mozilla wants you to sign a petition to make Apple change this.

Or rather, the company wants you to see Mozilla as a champion of user privacy. It's taking on Apple, the company that keeps telling us it's our privacy is sacrosanct. And Mozilla would like you to please just sign a petition headed "Tell Apple to protect iPhone users' privacy."

The description of the petition even admits "you can turn this identifier off," but it avoids saying what it actually is or actually does. So, we will.

There is a unique identifier on your iPhone and it's called ASIdentifierManager. It's specifically in your iPhone, iPad or other Apple hardware -- it is tied to the device and not to your Apple ID, so there's no building up a profile of us across all our machines.

And it's used by Apple. Only Apple.

"To give you the best advertising experience," says Apple's support documentation, "Apple provides ads in the App Store and Apple New that are based on information such as your App Store search history and Apple News reading history."

Mozilla says this gives your data to third party advertisers -- but it doesn't.

We'll give Mozilla credit for one thing. It is right when it then says most people don't know how to switch it off, but it's not as if Apple hides how to do it.

"If you want to opt out of these interest-based ads," says the says Apple's support documentation, " you can choose to turn on the Limit Ad Tracking setting."

Mozilla's online petition
Mozilla's online petition


On an iOS device, go to Settings, Privacy, Advertising and switch on Limit Ad Tracking. There's a similar thing on Apple TV and there it's under. Settings, General, Privacy.

If you're on a Mac, go to System Preferences, Security & Privacy and select Privacy. Scroll down to Advertising and you'll get options to limit ad tracking plus more details about what Apple is doing. "Apple uses it to deliver more relevant ads in Apple News and the App Store," it says. "Your personal data is not provided to third parties."

Mozilla says that they and we must petition for Apple to do something about all this third-party ad-tracking that doesn't happen.

"That's why we're asking Apple to change the unique IDs that advertisers use to track us on each iPhone," they say. They want Apple to change this identifier every month. "That means we could still get relevant ads -- but there's a real cap that makes it harder for companies to build profiles of us over time."

Apple's Developer documentation isn't perhaps the clearest it could be, but Apple itself is strident about how your data remains your data. Apple is also the company that persistently argues for privacy, including battling the FBI about it.

Whereas, the Mozilla Foundation is the company that's trying to build an audience for its Internet Health Report, whose second edition is being released later this month.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    Who the Mozilla Foundation?
  • Reply 2 of 23
    And who helps fund Mozilla? The most infamous people farmer, Go-ogle.
    magman1979ArloTimetravelerols
  • Reply 3 of 23
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,114member
    And who was it who surreptitiously slipped in a "Research" campaign plugin into their browser and leaked data without our consent and knowledge beforehand? Yeah, we're looking at you Mozilla!

    I'll stick with my Apple gear and Safari web browser, thanks!
    repressthiscat52ols
  • Reply 4 of 23
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 507member
    Who the Mozilla Foundation?
    A non profit organization that supports several Open Source software systems, the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client primarily. I like their stuff and like what they do generally. But this time I think they're barking up the wrong tree. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Foundation
    razorpitnubusdewmeseanjuraharaiCaveols
  • Reply 5 of 23
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,034member
    Apple has had issues with Advertisers in the past because they want all this info that Apple has been unwilling to give them. I think Mozilla is a little confused and should be talking about Android. All it does is spy on you. Of course Google is getting most of the direct benefit from that and selling that Data.
    flyingdprazorpitmagman1979macseekerols
  • Reply 6 of 23
    metrixmetrix Posts: 245member
    Yeah uhh NO! Note to self avoid FireFox
    magman1979cat52uraharaols
  • Reply 7 of 23
    I found and turned off the tracking long ago. To me it should be opt-in, so I agree with Mozilla.

    All the concern about 3rd parties is one aspect, yet does Apple collect the data, even 'securely'...?

    Do they effectively monetize it simply by offering targeted ads to advertisers, even without disclosures?

    Can IP addresses also be used to assemble profiles (eg. use a VPN) ?

    Could one hack, programming error, geo political shift or change in EULA alter the privacy landscape pretty quickly...?

    edited April 15 iCave
  • Reply 8 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    jbdragon said:
    Apple has had issues with Advertisers in the past because they want all this info that Apple has been unwilling to give them. I think Mozilla is a little confused and should be talking about Android. All it does is spy on you. Of course Google is getting most of the direct benefit from that and selling that Data.
    LOL... and what data would that be that is being sold? 
  • Reply 9 of 23
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 699member
    And who helps fund Mozilla? The most infamous people farmer, Go-ogle.
    From 2004 to 2014, the foundation had a deal with Google to make Google Search the default in the Firefox browser search bar and hence send it search referrals; a Firefox themed Google search site was also made the default home page of Firefox. The original contract expired in November 2006. However, Google renewed the contract until November 2008 and again through 2011.[15] On December 20, 2011, Mozilla announced that the contract was once again renewed for at least three years to November 2014, at three times the amount previously paid, or nearly US$300 million annually.[16][17] Approximately 90% of Mozilla’s royalties revenue for 2014 was derived from this contract.[18]

    In November 2017, however, Mozilla announced[19] that it was switching back to Google as the default search engine. This represented an early termination of its Yahoo partnership.[20]


    Hahaha Looks that way...






    DAalseth
  • Reply 10 of 23
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,429member
    I find Apple's approach to be very straightforward. It first asks you about this setting when setting up a new device, so it's technically opt-in from the very start — because you can disable the setting at the very start of using a new or reset device.

    And the setting of easily found again in an expected location on all devices.... under Settings > Privacy > Advertising.

    Can't get any simpler than that.

    cat52tobianols
  • Reply 11 of 23
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,263member
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    cgWerksols
  • Reply 12 of 23
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,027member
    chasm said:
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    They have a lot of prior experience from ousting Eich.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    ====And it's used by Apple. Only Apple. ===

    Can a developer somehow track this information anyways and not have Apple know? Anyone know how hard this would be? Possible?
  • Reply 14 of 23
    iCaveiCave Posts: 2member
    And who helps fund Mozilla? The most infamous people farmer, Go-ogle.
    Mozilla *had* a deal with Google to make it the default search engine on Firefox browser in return for a payment. This is no longer the case. That contract has expired. You also realise that Apple *still* has a similar contract with Google to make it the default search engine on Safari right? And this contract is still in force. Word on the street is that Google pays upwards of 1 billion for this privilege. So, no point in singling out Mozilla Foundation. Apple still has similar deal in place and Google is funding Apple by $1 billion for it.
    croprgatorguy
  • Reply 15 of 23
    kkqd1337kkqd1337 Posts: 186member
    From my perspective even if doing what Mozilla day increases privacy by only 0.00001% I’d say it’s an excellent idea 

    or better yet just get rid of the identifier completely 
  • Reply 16 of 23
    nhtnht Posts: 4,429member
    cgWerks said:
    chasm said:
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    They have a lot of prior experience from ousting Eich.
    Yah, I lost all desire to support them at all after that. Looked at the Brave browser.  Interesting concept
  • Reply 17 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    jbdragon said:
    ...I think Mozilla is a little confused and should be talking about Android. All it does is spy on you. Of course Google is getting most of the direct benefit from that and selling that Data.
    LOL... and what data would that be that is being sold? 
    chasm said:
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    Nevermind, Chasm answered it.  :)
  • Reply 18 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    nht said:
    cgWerks said:
    chasm said:
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    They have a lot of prior experience from ousting Eich.
    Yah, I lost all desire to support them at all after that. Looked at the Brave browser.  Interesting concept
    I agree on the Brave browser but if they plan to monetize it with users paying to surf it's probably already marked for death. 
  • Reply 19 of 23
    gatorguy said:
    jbdragon said:
    ...I think Mozilla is a little confused and should be talking about Android. All it does is spy on you. Of course Google is getting most of the direct benefit from that and selling that Data.
    LOL... and what data would that be that is being sold? 
    chasm said:
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    Nevermind, Chasm answered it.  :)

    Of course, Go-ogle doesn't "sell" the data they collect. That would be stupid! Rather, it's more like they rent the data they collect so they get paid over and over and over....

    Check out Patrick Berlinquette's series about how Go-ogle "monetizes" your data:

    Part 1: How Google Tracks Your Personal Information: https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d

    Part 2: How Google Marketers Exploit Your Discomfort: https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d

    Part 3: How Marketers Use Redirect Ads to Deceive You: https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d



  • Reply 20 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    gatorguy said:
    jbdragon said:
    ...I think Mozilla is a little confused and should be talking about Android. All it does is spy on you. Of course Google is getting most of the direct benefit from that and selling that Data.
    LOL... and what data would that be that is being sold? 
    chasm said:
    This is what we call a “disinformation campaign,” kids.
    Nevermind, Chasm answered it.  :)

    Of course, Go-ogle doesn't "sell" the data they collect. That would be stupid! Rather, it's more like they rent the data they collect so they get paid over and over and over....

    Check out Patrick Berlinquette's series about how Go-ogle "monetizes" your data:

    Part 1: How Google Tracks Your Personal Information: https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d

    Part 2: How Google Marketers Exploit Your Discomfort: https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d

    Part 3: How Marketers Use Redirect Ads to Deceive You: https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d



    Yup every company has it's detractors, some aggressively so. Your links might be a more worthwhile read if they didn't start right out of the gate with a flawed premise:
    "Today, Google provides marketers like me with so much of your personal data..."

    Except that they don't. FWIW I don't agree with Mozilla either using Apple as their PR pointman. 

    As you were. 
    edited April 16
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