back to article A lesser-known new feature in iOS 6: It's tracking you everywhere

Apple has enabled user tracking of its customers once again, with the recently released iOS 6 enabling advertisers to see which apps users have run, and which adverts they've seen – all for the benefit of the users, of course. The feature wasn't highlighted by Apple at the launch of iOS 6, as Business Insider points out in its …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sensationalistic title

    So hang on, before in iOS 5 developers could use UDID to track people and this couldn't be prevented, and now developers can use IFA which *can* be prevented.

    How is that a bad thing as portrayed by the author's choice of words in the title?

    Although I suppose devs can still use the UDID and carry-on as nothing had happened...

    1. Filippo

      Re: Sensationalistic title

      From reading the article, I gather that UDID is not present in iOS5. So it is true that you can track people in iOS6, while you couldn't in iOS5.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sensationalistic title

        The article is full of mistakes. IOS 5 did have UDIDs, however as Apple transitioned away from them they rejected app submissions that used them,. Hwever old apps that weren't updated continued to use UDID as before.

        The UDID blocking was at the point App Store submission, not on iOS itself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sensationalistic title

          It's still there in ios6 too, thank god, as I have an app still using it which was released prior to ios5. I'm dreading ever having to update the app :S

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Sensationalistic title

        UDIDs were available in iOS 5 - and are actually still available in iOS 6, but (I suspect, not tested it) only to old apps built for older OS versions. I think apple are just not approving new apps that try to use it, as of quite recently. (I'm an iOS developer - but not one that puts adverts / tracking / analytics / other bullshit into any apps :)

        So yes, I agree that the title is totally sensationalist. This is actually an improvement, because now we do at least have an opt-out, even if it is pretty obscure.

        Also, I read the title (It's tracking you EVERYWHERE!) as meaning it was tracking my location and reporting it back to apple, which is even more sensationalist and even more wrong!

    2. jai

      Re: Sensationalistic title

      this is El Reg - titles and the facts of the story do not often correlate.

    3. Senri
      Thumb Down

      Re: Sensationalistic title

      Hang on again, so it's okay to track users now? Oh google does it too? Well we're talking about Apple here. They could as easily screw things up inside and allow all your info to be released or some thing like that. They are absolutely incompetent when it comes to online services Ping, iCloud(not so bad now), and recently Maps.

      What we want is TURNING IT COMPLETELY OFF! I buy my apps, etc. why should I see any kind of ads.

  2. wowfood

    Uhm

    Cookie law, you must have express permission to store anything on users.

    Privacy laws in general, pretty much the same thing

    Apple law "If they can't see it it's not illegal" followed by OH SHIT THEY SAW IT. Followed by trying to sneak it in under another name during the next release.

    Class action lawsuits in US place your bets now.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Uhm

      It's not a cookie though. The advertisers aren't sticking the id on the phone. The phone OS is generating the id and sending it outwards. Apple could probably argue that users had agreed to it by agreeing to the terms of service of the app store.

  3. Kevin Johnston

    Not good

    I read through the Insider article with a degree of disbelief but then spoke with a colleague who has an iPhone 4 which he upgraded to iOS6. We went through the steps to check and at the end he said "See, it's OK as it is turned off". Then I pointed out the bit where it says you have to turn it ON to stop the tracking........

    His face was a picture

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not good

      At least you can turn it off, try doing that for Android.

      1. ZeroP
        FAIL

        Re: Not good @AC 10:50

        Very funny,

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: Not good

        "At least you can turn it off, try doing that for Android."

        root--->install adaway--->install lbe security master(or pdroid)---->turn off syncing--->sorted.

        lbe and pdroid let you block completely or generate a random id/imei/location etc every time an app is run, making all their tracking pointless as to all intents and purpose the app sees a different phone each time it starts.

        Adaway stops all advertising in apps and in the browser, making for a much more pleasent experience.

        try doing that in IOS.......

        1. DougS Silver badge
          FAIL

          @mickey mouse

          When step one is "root", it is something for advanced users only. The typical Android buyer will not do this.

          1. DF118
            Facepalm

            @DougS Re: @mickey mouse

            I don't recall the challenge being whether or not "typical buyers" would do it, just whether or not it was possible in the first place. Besides, the technique described by Mr. mouse is just one among quite a diverse selection.

            I will agree however that Android is a privacy nightmare. I'd still rather be there though than be in a situation where all my base are belong to Cupertino.

      4. Chet Mannly

        Re: Not good

        "At least you can turn it off, try doing that for Android."

        Settings > Privacy > Uncheck boxes for GPS and Wireless tracking

        Play Store > Settings > Uncheck "Google Admob" to stop google tracking you advertisement-wise

        If you're ultra paranoid install LBE Privacy and you can switch off each permission for each app.

        Only one thing more fun than a fanboi, and that's an ill-informed fanboi...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not good

      So they are fooling the user.

      If the user sees something is OFF they think it's off, but wording it so you have to turn the feature ON not to be tracked is a dirty trick.

      Wonder if the EU will get wind of this and get Apple to change the feature so you have to turn it OFF for it to stop tracking you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not good

        Also, aside from the confusing wording and clarity about whether you want it on or off, the option is also limit tracking, not stop or disallow, why would anyone normally think to look in 'about' for options to change. About tells you about the device, it provides information, not tweakable settings.

      2. shadowphiar
        Facepalm

        Re: Not good

        Is Firefox's "Do Not Track" setting a dirty trick to fool the user as well?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fragrant Turd [Was: Re: Not good]

          On Wednesday 17 October at 11:30 shadowphiar said "Is Firefox's "Do Not Track" setting a dirty trick to fool the user as well?"

          DNT is completely toothless. It's just a preference. There is no legal obligation for anyone to follow the users declared preference - we only have the word of the Ad Whores that they will. Quite simply not good enough.

          DNT is complete shite dressed as a fragrant turd.

          Trust it at your peril as in doing so you are clearly stating that you trust the Ad Whores.

          What we need is not DNT or anything similar. What we need is legislation that tells the Ad Whores that my data, my location etc. are mine and that it is illegal to:

          1) Assume that anyone can use said data, track me etc. without my explicit consent.

          2) Assume implied consent by the use of a service.

          DNT? Don't make me laugh.

          1. Great Bu

            Re: Fragrant Turd [Was: Not good]

            A wise man once said to me:

            "You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter"

    3. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Not good

      On an iPhone4 with iOS6 set to French (long story), the option is called "Suivi publicitaire limité", roughly translated as "Limited advertising tracking". Arguably this is worse, because it doesn't say what the alternative is. Is it a choice between "limited tracking" and "no tracking" or between "limited tracking" and "rich super powerful privacy destroying tracking"?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does this square with the EU commission's demand that anything that could serve as a personal identifier should also be treated as personal data?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/16/when_is_a_cookie_personal_data/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is not a personal identifier, it's random and changes over time. Try reading the description net time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @A/C 10:13

        I did read it thank you. They make it clear that it could change at some point in the future but given the conditional nature of this statement it's entirely possible that it will never change.

        From the article:

        Apple's new IFA isn't guaranteed not to change – the device could generate a new random number at any time, but Cupertino isn't saying how often, or if, it will.

        'Isn't guaranteed not to change' != 'will change'

        Next time RTFA before slinging around insults.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @A/C 10:13

          On the IFA, I read this

          "The IFA, or Identification For Advertisers, is a random number generated once by the iOS device which is used to uniquely identify that device between applications."

          and wondered how if it is randomly generated it is guaranteed unique? How are collisions in the generation between devices avoided, phone home?

          1. Kristian Walsh

            Re: @A/C 10:13 -- uniqueness, and another approach..

            My guess:

            IFA = sha1( UDID.append( randombits ) )

            Meets the uniqueness criterion, but doesn't reveal the originating device.

            However, from a privacy point of view, this is no better. If the lifetime of the IFA token is sufficiently long, then it's just as harmful to user privacy as the UDID.

            Trying to balance the usefulness of targeted advertising with the privacy concerns is just a matter of knowing when to stop tracking. My preferred approach would be to assign each device/customer a small set of unique-ish IDs, each of which roll over after a short period. Every session (app launch) would use one randomly-chosen ID from this set for the duration of its operation, as follows:

            At app start: select randomly-chosen ID from set, optionally hash this with an app-unique signature.

            When requested: send that ID to advertising agent in order to identify the user.

            every N days: drop oldest ID, generate new one, add it to the set.

            This way, apps running on the device can be sandboxed in terms of advertising tracking if required; but even if they're not, no trustable activity history can be assembled beyond the lifetime of one token.

            Sure there would be other implementation issues, but I've only outlined this to show that the issues involved in *not* tracking users aren't technical.

          2. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: @A/C 10:13

            [I] wondered how if it is randomly generated it is guaranteed unique?

            They use this cool new thing called Mathematics and generate a random huge number, from a range so big that collisions are not only unlikely, but you could have millions of devices generating millions of ids per second, and you would still have to wait a bloody long time for a collision to occur.

            I don't know how Apple generate IFA, but a UUID is similar. If you generate 1 billion random UUIDs per second, after 100 years the chance of generating even one duplicate is only 50%. A UUID is only 128 bits (and only 122 are significant), if they used 256 bit numbers they would have even more space.

            1. EvilGav 1

              Re: @A/C 10:13

              That's wonderful and all, but you're quoting odds and not probability.

              The odds of something happening != the probability of it happening.

              In your example, the odds maybe 50%, but the probability of the first and second numbers being identical isn't.

          3. It wasnt me
            Thumb Down

            Re: @A/C 10:13

            Indeed, or how if it is "generated once", one can reasonably expect it to change.

  5. Bodestone

    Amazon

    You've just bought a TV, how about this one, or this one, or this one...

    For the last time "Noooooooo". I have one now you see...

    1. fishman

      Re: Amazon

      I bought some stuff on Amazon years ago for my kids when they were little. I still get suggestions for similar things, but they are both in college now.....

  6. Fading Silver badge
    Joke

    As long as they are tracking via iOS6 Maps......

    they'll never find you......

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons
      Joke

      Re: As long as they are tracking via iOS6 Maps......

      This being the case, I'm never going to move over to Android...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is VERY questionable

    For a start, Apple knows damn well it is a privacy violation or it would not have hidden this where nobody would find it (note to self, next time look at ALL options).

    Secondly, exactly BECAUSE it impacts privacy it should have been under some central privacy header. But if you use that as argument you would need to add iCloud, iMessage and Siri under that header too as each takes your data and ships it to the US for processing (like Viber and WhatsApp do as apps).

    Cue interest from Data Protection officials, I hope - Apple should make this exporting and tracking clear in the T&Cs and ask explicit permission as privacy laws demand (at least in Europe).

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: This is VERY questionable

      I'm about to defend Apple (at least partially) here, I feel dirty.

      At least you can now turn it off. Which is an improvement on what they did where the UID before, and better than the options Android fails to give you.

      Win Pho 7 is more honest, and apps all tell you whether they use the 2 unique numbers (even if they've labelled them confusingly). The user number is a random string that's supposedly not identifiable, the phone ID is traceable back to the phone, and therefore you.

      You also get warnings on using the navigation apps that they'll be using your Sat Nav and data to build their WiFi maps up, but this is a question of let us do it, or no aGPS for you, same as Google. Although in Android's case you can turn off the Sat Nav chip, which you can't in Win Pho. iOS seems to be even less granular than the others, where it's either location services on (and all tracking enabled), or nothing.

      I have 2 Win Pho 7 apps asking for updates now, that I won't allow because of the new info they're trying to steal off me with the updates. I'd really like to run the apps, and control what they can do - but that doesn't seem to be an option anyone gives. I'm hoping for an EU Hammer of Justice [tm] to smite the mobile OS writers, because this piss taking is clearly going to continue until that happens. Most users just aren't up to the technical aspects of self-defence, even if they understood it enough to care. I don't actually mind the advertising side of things (within reason), it's the tracking and lack of control that piss me off. How can I stop some random app downloading my whole address book (which is commercially sensitive), if the OS makers won't allow me to defend myself.

      1. Chet Mannly

        Re: This is VERY questionable

        "better than the options Android fails to give you."

        As explained in my post above there are simple checkboxes to turn this stuff off in Android. Maybe you should learn a bit more about what you're slagging off...

        If you're ultra paranoid you can root and use apps that let you control pretty much every aspect of your device.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: This is VERY questionable

          Chet Mannly,

          I'm pretty sure there weren't in Android 2.2 or 2.3 (which are the last versions I used). Although it's 6 months since I jumped ship from Anrdroid, so I'm perfectly happy to be proved wrong.

          You could turn location tracking off, but then you lost access to aGPS. Or you could have tracking on, but the Sat Nav chip off, which in some ways is better than the options iOS or WinPho 7 give you. You also get told some of the things that apps can do, on a take it or leave it basis when you download, which is better than iOS as well. But I don't recall seeing any options for turning off Ad networks, app-use tracking and all that type of stuff. And I went through every setting on the phone.

          However, when you say you can root the phone if you're paranoid - that's not terribly helpful. If I'm paranoid, taking untrusted software off the internet, and giving it root, well that doesn't sound too good to me! OK, it's used by a lot of people, but a lot of the ROMs seem to be one-man projects, so the chances of them getting caught slipping in something naughty, seem quite low. Android gives you a wealth of choices, but you need to do a lot of work to protect yourself, and half the time you've not got the information needed to do it.

          Backdoors seem to be the norm on all the modern smartphone OSes, most of the manufacturers are only putting out closed-source drivers, and everyone from Google to app makers seems determined to mine the maximum amount of information they can get away with, with the minimum amount of permissions. I don't see this changing any time soon, without legislation. The commercial disadvantages of offering proper privacy are quite large, so once everyone else is doing it, it's hard not to join them.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: This is VERY questionable

          Chet Mannly,

          Just looked at your post above. I don't remember that option in the Google Play store to turn off their ad stuff. Don't know if that's a version thing, or just something I missed. I wasn't using many apps on my phone, as I've found I'm not a phone app user. I prefer those on a tablet. Don't think I downloaded any apps after Marketplace turned to Play.

          Does that setting affect what third party apps can do, or does it restrict itself to only Google's hooks?

          I gave my phone away, so haven't got it to check with.

    2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: This is VERY questionable

      "...hidden where nobody would find it..."

      Hmmm... 10: Let's assume for a second that it's true that they intentionally hid the setting. How well is that working out now that it's all over the 'net? Is this outcome in fact perfectly predictable? GOTO 10

  8. b166er

    Sorry, Fluke phoned you? How?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I imagine they probably picked up the handset and pressed some of the buttons with numbers on.

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        I suspect the question is really one of how Fluke got the number. That was the first question I asked myself when I read this. If the author didn't give it to them then there should be a lot more noise being made about the Google-smartphone nexus (pun not originally intended but liked enough to not change it.)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    This is ridiculous (as is the usual drivel coming out Business Insider)

    Smartphones/computers/tablets have had lots of unique identifiers: MAC addresses, hardware serials - on Android you can even read the persons' phone number.

    This method is actually much more anonymous since the identifier is not permanent and you can opt out anyway (trying opting out of a MAC address)

    Calling this tracking "everywhere" is also stupid since everywhere implies location tracking, which is not what's happening here. This doesn't even track your web usage - unlike cookies from Admob (Google) et al.

    Business Insider is run by a convicted US securities fraudster, shows how much credibility their reports deserve.

    1. Rodrigo Rollan
      Stop

      Re: This is ridiculous (as is the usual drivel coming out Business Insider)

      I have two observations to make:

      I am not quite wure you can "opt out" since it only says it will track you less, not that it will stop tracking you altoghether.

      My other concern is with the "everywere "statement. You say it is not going to track your location. I don`t know exactly how the algorythms asociated with this work, so I have no idea wether it is going to track users using location as part of the logic or if is , perhaps, going to update the ID base on location. Or if it is going to send (ID, current location) to the service in order for marketers to target you and make offers in your general direction. Judging from the marketers "excitement" with this feature, my guess is for the worst.....

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: This is ridiculous (as is the usual drivel coming out Business Insider)

        The full framework documentation is at http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/DeviceInformation/Reference/AdSupport_Framework/_index.html — if an advertiser wants explicitly to post a location then the app will have to request and be approved for location updates. Otherwise all they're getting is the "alphanumeric string unique to each device, used only for serving advertisements. [...] the same value is returned to all vendors. This identifier may change—for example, if the user erases the device—so you should not cache it."

        Your 'opt out' appears equivalent to the don't track HTTP flag in that the advertising agent gets told that you don't want to be tracked and is then merely honour bound (or possibly legally bound, depending on your country) to obey. No technical barrier is erected. At best I guess Apple may implement some sort of vetting system for app approval.

  10. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "viewing" adverts

    Isn't necessarily the same as seeing them on the screen.

    It's not difficult to direct the output to /dev/null while walking adspace(*) - there are a bunch of small programs which exist to generate random web traffic in order to mask what you're really doing.

    (*) Advertisers want their ads to be viewed, so why not spider the things repeatedly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "viewing" adverts

      Interesting. Can you post a few names for those tools?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Some months ago your correspondent expressed some interest in a Fluke Thermal Imager, from a technical point of view, and since then at least half the websites visited have shown the same advert for Fluke"

    Had the same experience a few months ago ... except I'd Googled to find advice on how to fix a faulty toilet flush ... so I had weeks of adverts from the same plumbing company offering me new flush syphons! Think it got fixed when I bought an electric guitar for my son so I then got adverts from the webiste I'd bought the guitar from trying to sell me a guitar!

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Joke

      Anticlimax

      Oh. I thought you were going to tell us that the music store was then trying to sell you a syphon flush. That would have been so much better.

  12. Alan Denman

    Its OK if its controlled by Apple.

    Not exactly hard to guess why apple makes it harder for businesses to make a living on the web and easier in their apps.

    Use the web while you can!

  13. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    FAIL

    Random adverts more desirable than tracked...

    And no adverts more desirable than either.

    If the best companies can come up with is 'oh, you bought a set of alloy wheels; we'll send you adverts for more wheels from now till forever' then I hate to break it to them, but they really need a new business model.

    1. Lallabalalla
      FAIL

      Re: Random adverts more desirable than tracked...

      So true.

      Sometimes Amazon tries to get it right - but when I bought a humidifier and they came up with "Customers who bought this also bought ..... a de-humidifier" I had to laugh.

      1. keith_w
        FAIL

        Re: Random adverts more desirable than tracked...

        we have both. we use the dehumidifier in the summer and the humidifier in the winter. It would be nice if the weather would automatically balance the two, but unfortunately it doesn't.

  14. DrXym Silver badge

    I hate sites / apps that bury settings like this

    I can understand why they would default a setting on like this, but hiding the setting to opt-out is cynical and evil. They hope by putting it somewhere people are not looking for it, that they deter all but the most determined from finding it.

    Apple aren't the first company to engage in this practice but it's still annoying. It was annoying when Real started doing it, then AOL with AIM, then Skype, then Facebook, and a multitude of other apps and sites.

    They've all deliberately engaged in anti-usability, seeking places in the UI for stuff they DON'T want users to find while proclaiming they exist - do not track settings, disable ads, delete posts, cancel subscription settings and so on.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: I hate sites / apps that bury settings like this

      I'm not sure this is entirely true, but only on very slender grounds: I can never find anything in any reasonable amount of time within my iPhone's settings. The whole layout seems completely counterintuitive. As a result, I don't think we can assume malicious intent from the simple fact of a new setting being in a very strange place.

      Obvious examples: why is Auto-Lock a 'general' setting but Brightness & Wallpaper a top-level setting? Why is iTunes Match under 'Music' rather than under 'iCloud'? How is asking the phone right now to check for a software update a setting at all?

      They desperately need an OS X-style search bar, I think.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    The article forgets to mention that app developers were actually the ones loudly complaining after Apple started rejecting UDID-using apps, which spawned multiple alternative identifiers of dubious regulation (OpenUDID for example)

    Not that I blame devs for complaining and seeking alternatives, it's good - almost essential these days - to have analytics on app usage as you do on websites, and alternative systems such as Android let you do whatever tracking you want.

    In fact the Ghostery plugin tells me The Register does some tracking of it's own via both Doubleclick and Google Analytics, both Google services who also track me almost *everywhere* on the web.

    Seems good that Apple stepped up and made a regulated method with a central opt-out and guaranteed anonymity which is in many ways better than the old UDID.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      question about Ghostery plugin though

      does IT track which websites you went to and does it send this information anywhere? (I use ghostery myself, but... I don't quite trust them).

      1. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: question about Ghostery plugin though

        If you opt-in to ghost rank it sends anonymous data back to the mothership thats then sold to advertisers to paw over to better target ad campagns and suss out whats doing well etc.

        If you dont opt in, nothing gets sent.

        Pretty clever business model really.

  16. pavsmith

    Tracking my interest in sauerkraut

    I hate focussed ads... went onto my supermarket's website to check if they sold sauerkraut and for the next 3 months all I got on every site that was tracking my behaviour was advertising for various types of sauerkraut. Unfortunately I had bought it later that original afternoon when I visited the supermarket. I opt out to at least get some variety from my ads... :-)

    1. Jon B

      Re: Tracking my interest in sauerkraut

      And you only need to buy sauerkraut once every couple of years, at least in our house. The Piccalilli relish has laid dormant in the cupboard for five years now.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errr...

    ...what are these adverts things of which you all speak?

  18. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Down

    I find targetted ads...

    (...annoying, but also...)

    ...more useful at identifying what I've already bought, than what I might intend to buy in the future.

    I also use the same Amazon account (and credit card) to buy stuff for work and personal use. This must play havoc with my "profile".

    Aside: I own a Kindle (a very handy device), and often find that the Amazon price for the Kindle edition of an older book is several times the cost of a used paperback from Alibris or ABEBooks. You can imagine where I end up buying the book...

  19. Moyra J. Bligh
    FAIL

    Stalkvertising

    Stalkvertising doesn't work. It never will. They only know what you are looking at and not why.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what's new? I can imagine most of the others do it already, those that don't track their customers are probably planning to very soon. Google's Android, how daft are we to buy an O/S from a glorified marketing company? Yes I do own and SGS2 and I really like it, I just accept it comes with strings attached like most things in life these days.

    Freedom is an illusion, always has been and always will be.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a good thing

    Looking beyond the histerics from well known market manipulators like Business Insider who base their business on linkbait and shorting Apple's stock, the new IFA targetting ID is a lot better than the UDID it replaces.

    One of the biggest complaints was that apps using UDID always assuming that the user tied to the UDID of the phone was the same, i.e. if you sold your phone the buyer's apps would still think it was you. Some badly designed games (hello Zynga) even used it as their authentication! Not so with the new identifier since the phone now gets a fresh new one after each restore to factory default.

    As others already said being able to opt out is also a added bonus. It wasn't possible to opt out of UDID or other forms of tracking. If only it was this easy to disable all trackers on the web.

  22. Eddie Edwards
    Boffin

    Just a point of order - you're talking here about UIDevice::identifierForVendor. From the horse's mouth:

    "The value of this property is the same for apps that come from the same vendor running on the same device. A different value is returned for apps on the same device that come from different vendors, and for apps on different devices regardles [sic] of vendor."

    This seems specifically designed to *stop* tracking at the ad vendor level, while allowing it at the app vendor level (since he has an existing customer relationship to maintain). If the ad vendor gets the same user on different apps he'll get different IDs.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If that's the future of tracked adverts then random selection would seem a more desirable option, and if it enhances one's privacy then that's all to the good. ®

    What about indescriminately plastering your website with advertising? Is that a good idea?

    Or perhaps a better idea would be to tone it down a little?

  24. Ed 11

    "...to make switching it off really quite difficult..."

    Settings --> General --> About --> Advertising --> Limit Ad Tracking. Difficult indeed.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Yes, that's easy, a config option that you access through the About box...

      And if you turn that option off, does it mean "Prevent Ad Tracking" or "Enable full-fat Ad Tracking"?

      (Yes, I know the answer. It's called a rhetorical question...)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory...

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/10/20

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very good in showing ads...and that's about it?

    Why should I buy an overpriced gadget

    which does not have today's premium hardware specs, and is missing latest technologies

    has design flaws, as it is not robust enough so that a 2 year old can easily scratch it with car keys

    but is very good in tracking the user and showing advertisements

    and because of that I need to pay for the phone as well as for the contract and watch uninvited ads?

    Yeah, man, let's file for that thing around the block from 2 am onwards.

  27. Zolko
    Big Brother

    Ghostery

    "I'm unable to avoid the adverts everywhere"

    There is a Firefox plug-in for that: ghostery. You'll be surprised by the number of trackers on all sites (2 on el Reg). And Big-Brother won't be watching you anymore.

  28. Mullerrad
    Angel

    tracking

    Any phone can be tracked.Phone polls cell and cell and tell the angle and direction and estimate distance.

    In a city you can be pinpointed.

    But I get the point if apple is collecting this type of information its breaking the law in UK.

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