Apple takes back control; revised iOS developer agreement limits abuse of sensitive user data

“The new terms in section 3.3.9 of the iOS developer agreement are all about Apple taking back control of how developers and third parties access and use sensitive user data on their iOS platform,” David Barnard blogs for @drbarnard. “The amount and detail of data that can be gleaned from a person’s mobile device is absolutely staggering…”

“Apple doesn’t trust the benevolence of Google, developers, and other third parties involved in the iOS platform. Apple wants to control the flow of user information. They may use more detail in targeting iAds than they are going to allow others to use for their own ads and other analysis, and that’s a competitive advantage, but it’s a fair competitive advantage for them to maintain on their own platform,” Barnard writes. “Apple hasn’t said AdMob can’t advertise on iOS, just that they must get written permission from Apple for ANY user and/or device information that is sent back to AdMob servers.”

Barnard writes, “For reference, here’s a story about Amazon not allowing third parties access to user’s purchase history to prevent them from usurping Amazon’s incredibly valuable recommendation engine.”

“But this goes way deeper than just screwing Ad Mob/Google and having a competitive advantage for iAds, it’s about Apple taking back control of how user and device information is accessed on their platform,” Barnard writes. “At the end of the day, when someone buys an iPhone, they are putting a certain amount of trust in Apple. And Apple is positioning the App Store as a place where users can trust the apps that they buy.”

“If Apple allows 3rd party apps unmitigated access to user data, they’ve essentially passed that trust and responsibility down a level to developers and other 3rd parties,” Barnard writes. “If Apple is going to position the App Store as a walled garden of apps that are safe to buy and use, they MUST control these aspects of what’s going on under the hood.”

“If Apple didn’t do this, a year from now a self-conscious woman would look down at her phone and see an ad promoting weighloss products to overweight 41 year old women with thinning blond hair who live in a blue house and drive a black Ford Tauras. And that’s going to scare the crap out of her,” Barnard writes. “Who’s she going to blame? What product is going to trashed in the press for enabling this kind of eerily specific advertising?”

Barnard writes, “By controlling the flow of information and how targeted the iAd platform becomes, Apple is taking back control so that it can decide what is appropriate. And I trust Apple in that regard a hell of a lot more than I trust Google, Facebook, etc. The thing is, Apple is a hardware company, that’s where they have and will continue to make their money. Google, Facebook, and others trade in information. The more detailed and specific, the more valuable that information. For Apple, the better the overall experience of the device, the more valuable that device becomes. They can throttle ad targeting and the specificity of 3rd party analytics according to the taste of users. Trusting 3rd parties to do so would be incredibly foolish…”

Full article – with the highest of recommendationshere.

MacDailyNews Take: What David wrote. Please read the excellent full article.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “jax44” for the heads up.]


  1. As draconian as it might initially seem to a casual reader, this is the right thing for Apple to do. Privacy is an important concern these days, thought I think this is more about information control than privacy for Apple.

  2. You can see how Apple is being targeted because of what A T & T did with the iPad. This was A T & T’s screw up and they keep trying to make Apple the bad guy.

    I say, restrict as much as you can to protect the customer that purchased the device not the clowns trying to advertise on it.

  3. That woman would scare the hell out of me too!

    I wonder though about David’s sources. He didn’t offer a single source from Apple in his story. Is he just making shit up, much the same way we do here?

    Whatever. It sounds good though and I certainly hope this is Apple’s intention. It would certainly be a terrific legal strategy.

    Go AAPL!

  4. Thanks David, for finally explaining this situation beyond the “Apple is Big Brother” line that every other article on the subject is peddling.

    Also, if you think the scary targeted ads story is over the top, you haven’t seen Facebook ads, which update to being mostly for dating sites the day you change your relationship status to “single.”

  5. An App should only take information that it directly generates. It should get information from anything else. Whether Apple should restrict information gathering within the app will really depend on whether it makes the app more useful.

  6. GOOD! About time somebody is thinking about their users. I hate ads and don’t mind paying a bit for ad free. Your privacy is worth alot more than free apps with ads.

  7. It should be noted the no one at Apple has ever indicated that Apple would collect or use the kind of device information we are talking about. Fact is knowing Steve’s distain of targeted advertising and the fact that Apple is only going for big advertisers makes me believe they wont be doing this,

  8. Apple is sly – Google is not so much in the search business as in the advertising business. Apple doesn’t need to attack Google in search, just go for their advertising revenues directly.

    Apple are not only going to eat into Google’s advertising lunch, but also the advertising revenues for books, magazines, TV shows and newspapers via the iTouch, iPhone & iPad.

    If I was in advertising I would be scared…

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