Many cell phone companies keep a track of user records and monitor people’s activities on their phones. They do this in order to understand user behavior so they could design new products and applications according to the demands of the users. However, this is called as a breach of consumer privacy as companies can easily extract user data without having consent of the user. Therefore, Apple has come up with a policy to counter activity tracking. This policy will make it difficult for the companies to monitor activities of users and consequently, help maintain user privacy. For example iPhone spy software will have a tougher time getting around. The same is true for any mobile spy apps that were making the rounds before.
Phasing Out the Advertisers
This move by Apple entails a phasing out mechanism where the company phases out access that developers have to the Unique Device Identifiers (UDID) in cell phones. The UDIDs are unique digits on mobile phones that help developers track internet browsing on the phone. They track the browsing cookies and thus monitor the activities of the user on different sites and apps, in turn learning user behavior to help them figure out better advertising techniques and creating new apps and products. This privacy breach by developer companies is similar to the iPhone spy app which extracts information on the user without him knowing.
Apple created this system as it was a threat to people’s privacy through Apple devices. Companies could easily gain access to user data through Apple phones and extract sensitive information such as location history, applications, and personal information on every user. Apple has also asked the developers to form specific IDs for their applications so that they can only track those and not have access to other user activities or data.
Let Google Guide Thee
By creating this privacy protection system, Apple seems to have followed Google’s lead in restoring user privacy. By limiting advertising companies and developer monitoring to their specific apps was also something that Apple might have borrowed from Google. Apple has targeted two areas where user privacy is restored: one is using pasteboards as a way to limit developers and the other is the Open UDID approach. The former is used for ID storage for developers; pasteboards were previously used for pasting data from one app to the other. This method would be effective even if the system reboots or f the app is closed. Coming to the latter, the OpenUDID approach is to make sure that user UDIDs are secure and are not able to be tracked by developers. It ensures complete privacy and limits developers and advertisers to their own respective applications.
What Advertisers Have To Say
On the other hand, advertisers have claimed that this is not a privacy breach on their part as they have not intentions of extracting anyone’s personal information. They say that keeping a track on user activity on applications makes it easier for them to monitor user behavior and thus, formulate better advertising strategies and creating new products, which, according to them is also beneficial for the users.
Advertisers also believe that Apple has created this policy in order to sideline advertisers and bring its own advertising network to the forefront. Even though the companies might have legitimate concerns about Apple limiting their activities, it still does not eradicate the fact that the privacy of users is not protected from these companies.
Keeping this debate in mind, it would be better for both Apple and the advertizing companies to reach a middle ground where user privacy is protected and advertisers also are able to monitor trends in user activity
Natalia David, a blogger by profession an author significantly contributes towards PC and Cell Phone security, parental monitoring software and iPhone spy app. If you want to know more about Natalia you can follow her on twitter @NataliaDavid4