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Apple IDFA: An Invasion of Privacy?

Last September, the Hacker Activist Organization proved that owning an Apple computer did not mean your information was completely safe from being shared.  On March 2012, the group breached an FBI computer and gather 12 million Apple UDIDs (Unique Device Identifier) , and made 1 million of them public.

Following this discovery, Apple warned their developers to reject any usage from the technology.  However, similar tracking technology named IDFA has been included in the new iOS 6 update.

IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is similar to UDID in that it identifies your Apple device and allows advertisers to track user surfing behavior and record interactions, including “conversions” (purchasing or downloading).  However, with IDFA, the device cannot be traced back to individuals, unlike UDID.

Michael Oiknine, CEO of mobile application analytics firm Apsalar, said that IDFA offered many advantages over the discredited UDID.  IDFA is reset when the device is reset, which prevents user data from being corrupt when they sell or transfer their device to a new owner, and users have the ability to opt out of tracking.

Other experts still express doubts and skepticism about the privacy protections.  Among other things, critics have noted that the IDFA is enabled by default, and Apple opted to put the feature for disabling tracking in the mostly-ignored “About” section under the General settings.  This section once just listed technical information about the device, and some critics argued that it would be more properly placed under the device’s Privacy settings.

Furthermore, Apple asks users to disable tracking by enabling the “Limit Ad Tracking” option, which some have referred to as a tricky bit of mental misdirection that may leave users who manage to track down the opt-out option believing that they’re already opted out.

The good news is, if you don’t want your information to be shared with third parties, you can disable this feature by following these steps:

1. Click on Settings
2. Click on General to access the General Settings
3. Click About
4. Scroll down and click on Advertising

Set Limit Ad Tracking to “ON”.

Apple Ad Tracking

Ad Tracking Settings

David Wise

David Wise

Chief Executive Officer, Founder at AVOXI
David has more than 18 years of management experience in the telecommunications industry. A graduate of the Citadel, David worked as a Senior Account Executive with Intermedia Communications and later co-founded Rapid Link, a leading provider of International callback and VoIP. David then founded AVOXI in 2001with a focus on providing niche international call center markets with customized voice and data services. read more
David Wise
David Wise

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