How to Stop Apple From Tracking You Again in iOS 6

Illustration for article titled How to Stop Apple From Tracking You Again in iOS 6

Business Insider is reporting that Apple's launch of iOS 6 brings with it not just Passbook and bad maps, but a new means of tracking user activity, too. That's right; your iPhone tracks your every activity by default. Here's how to stop it.

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The report suggests that Apple has started tracking users again so advertisers can target them, using a new technology called "identifier for advertisers " (IFA). A random, anonymous number assigned to a user and their device, IFAs are temporary and can be blocked like cookies.

The number is used to pass specific adds to apps and web pages when you use your phone, and can be used by companies to identify when a user is looking at their ad and when they are "converted" and make a purchase. While IFAs don't identify you personally, they do provide a bunch of data about your browsing and purchasing habits.

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While it's not as egregious as the location tracking that Apple dabbled in with the iPhone 4S, it's still a fairly aggressive violation of privacy—especially for an opt-out feature. But there's a quick fix.

Weirdly, the option to deactivate the tracking doesn't appear under the "Privacy" setting. Instead, go to "General," then "About," and then navigate to the "Advertising" section. From there, you need to to turn "Limit Ad Tracking" on. (That's a little counterintuitive, admittedly.)

So if you want to stick it to the man this morning—and keep your browsing and app use private—make sure IFAs aren't tracking your every move. [Business Insider]

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Image by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock

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DISCUSSION

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People.. DON'T turn this off. Unless you want to mess up the app ecosystem.

First of all I think Jamie is wrong. I don't think the IFA is used by advertisers on web sites using mobile safari. I think it's used by the advertisers in your free apps and more specifically your games. And it helps make sure the developer (like me) gets paid when you patronize an ad.

The IFA provides an anonymous way for developers to identify a device... but not the user associated with the device. So they're not "tracking" you. This is media hype. There is a reason why the IFA is important.. it helps keep free games free. And it was created to be a more anonymous alternative to the UDID, which everyone complained about.

Game developers have to make money from some where. Games on the iPhone are not $50 like they are on console. Many times they're free. The modern monetization model for free games is yes that they have in app purchases but also that they have ads for other free games. When you click on that ad and download the free game, the app developer gets credit for that download and is paid anywhere between .50 and 2.50. The IFA allows the ad company to identify which device clicked on the ad and then waits to see if that same device runs the next app. If so.. we get paid.

The IFA does not identify you between two devices. It's very anonymous.

Here's another thing it does.. let's say that you already own CSR racing.. you won't see an ad for CSR racing. The advertiser will know that your device already ran that game and they'll give you an ad for a different free game.

If you care about the developers who make these free games... don't disable the IFA.