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

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 66
    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.)
  • Reply 22 of 66
    hkzhkz Posts: 190member
    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.
  • Reply 23 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 24 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 25 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 26 of 66
    matt_smatt_s Posts: 299member
    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.
  • Reply 27 of 66
    archosarchos Posts: 152member
    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.
  • Reply 28 of 66
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 29 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 30 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 31 of 66
    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.



    No, what's happening is they're stealing your property and selling it to not just the highest bidder, but to _every_ bidder.



    That's not a metaphor, it's an exact description of what's going on.
  • Reply 32 of 66
    pwjpwj Posts: 19member
    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
  • Reply 33 of 66
    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
  • Reply 34 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 35 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 36 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 37 of 66
    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).
  • Reply 38 of 66
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    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
  • Reply 39 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 40 of 66
    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.
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