Apple’s anti-user tracking policy has mobile advertisers scrambling

“Mobile advertisers are working around a new Apple policy that makes it harder to track user activity on iPhones and iPads, in what some see as clear consumer privacy violations,” James Temple reports for The San Francisco Chronicle.

“Last summer, Apple began phasing out developer access to unique device identifiers (UDID), numbers on devices that many companies had used like tracking cookies in Internet browsers, enabling them to monitor activity from app to app and target ads accordingly,” Temple reports. “Most industry observers believe the company took this step in response to growing concerns over privacy… But many companies aren’t content with the limited data left available under a strict reading of the policy. In response, they’ve devised a handful of new ways to monitor activity outside of their own app, sidestepping the obstacle Apple erected. Stanford privacy researcher Jonathan Mayer says the tactics echo those employed by Google and several other companies to circumvent the privacy defaults in Apple’s Safari browser, a controversial practice he first highlighted in February.”

Temple reports, “In an interview, Yann Lechelle, the co-founder of Paris ad network Appsfire, argued that it can’t be assumed Apple made the change for privacy reasons and therefore it’s not clear they’re violating the spirit of the policy. He said advertisers must be able to peer outside an app to measure the effectiveness of ads – for instance, whether an ad drove a user to download an app, something known as a ‘conversion.’ Without such metrics, the mobile ad economy begins to break down, he said. ‘We don’t care that the device ID actually was tracked; what we care about is that 20 percent of the clicks became downloads,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. That’s an awful headline. It should read “Apple’s anti user-tracking policy has mobile advertisers scrambling” so that it doesn’t sound like Apple is anti-user.

    1. “anti-user-tracking” would be appropriate. That should mean a policy against user-tracking.

      Currently it reads as a tracking policy that is anti-user.

  2. Advertisers won’t implode if they can’t “peer outside of an app to measure the effectiveness of ads.” They certainly want to do that, but that doesn’t mean that we have to let them.

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