Apple’s security system has some increased security measures that ban user-tracking apps from Apple’s App Store. Now these measures have forced many ad networks to adopt alternative methods to obtain valuable information.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), ad networks are finding workarounds as Apple makes attempts to limit user tracking amid privacy concerns that are voiced by consumers as well as US government.
Earlier, the mobile advertising industry, which was born when Apple launched the App Store alongside the iPhone 3G in 2008, relied heavily on user data to effectively monetize ad space by tailoring advertisements to specific demographics. Without the user tracking data, it was exposed that networks were authorizing a loophole that allowed an app to upload geo-tagged photos in the background, which theoretically granted access to a user’s sensitive location data without the knowledge of that user. An example of this was Path, which faced some heat for uploading contents of an iDevice’s address book to an offsite server.
The government stepped in when Congress sent two letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook requesting a briefing on what the company was doing to remedy the perceived iOS privacy issues. In response to the media’s complaints, Apple planned to limit Unique Device Identifier (UDID) access and began blanket rejections of apps that accessed the data. At this time, ad networks were rumored to be experimenting with MAC addresses. OpenUDID was being used as substitute for the UDID access ban.
Recent reports claim that ad providers are now using Open Device Identification Network (ODIN) as well as the aforementioned OpenUDID to bypass Apple’s security measures. It is still not clear what workaround the networks will finally settle on to deliver the data they require.
Let us see what actions Apple will take, if any, to protect user privacy.