Image Source: Flickr/pasukaru76
So it seems Apple’s terrible Maps App isn’t the only reason not to upgrade to iOS 6, as the Business Insider revealed today that iOS 6 users can now be tracked by advertisers using a new type of technology called IFA or IDFA.
With all the fanfare surrounding the launch of the iPhone 5, Apple were particularly quiet about the addition of this new technology, needless to say it wasn’t one of the things discussed by Tim Cook in his keynote speech.
Prior to the launch of iOS 6, Apple had made the move to pretty much disable the tracking of iPhone users by advertisers when it stopped ad developers using Apple mobile device date via UDID – the unique serial number which identified every Apple device and could not be deleted.
But with iOS 6 it appears that tracking is very much back with a vengeance and the option to opt out of it is rather complicated, probably created that way with the intention that many people will leave it on without realizing.
A source familiar with IFA explained to the Business Insider how this new type of tracking works –
“IFA or IDFA stands for “identifier for advertisers.” It’s a random, anonymous number that is assigned to a user and their device. It is temporary and can be blocked, like a cookie.”
So when an iOS 6 user is browsing the web or looking at apps this generates a call for an ad and the publisher’s site passes the IFA to the ad server. This means advertisers are now able to find out what devices are looking at what sites. Let’s say you are looking at washing machines and an ad server picks up on this, the chances are you will get plenty of washing machine adverts appearing on your device.
Business Insider said:
“More importantly, IFA will allow advertisers to track the user all the way to “conversion” — which for most advertisers consists of an app download. Previously, advertisers had no idea whether their ads actually drove people to download apps or buy things. Now IFA will tell them. The IFA does not identify you personally — it merely provides a bunch of aggregate audience data that advertisers can target with ads.”
Turning this tracking off is relatively simple if you are in the know, however for people who are not necessarily tech-savvy the chances are they will have it on without even being aware of it. The option to turn it off is not in the privacy settings as you might be inclined to assume, but is in fact located in ‘General’. After selecting ‘General’ go to “About” and then into the “Advertising” section of the settings menu.
There you will see “Limit Ad Tracking” and this is another sneaky part, you would think if ‘Limit Ad Tracking was “Off” it would stop you getting ads, right? Wrong… In order to switch it off you have to select “On.” Sneaky guys, very very sneaky!
1. First, tap “Settings”
2. Tap “General”
3. Tap “About”
4. Tap “Advertising”
5. Slide “Limit Ad Tracking” to ‘On’
(Via Business Insider)