Advertisers bypass Apple privacy efforts

By Darren Pauli on Jun 7, 2012 8:05 AM
Filed under Security

Cupertino clampdown sees marketers scramble.

Marketing companies representing the likes of Mazda, Nikon and eHarmony have sought to bypass Apple’s efforts to prevent them tracking iPhone and iPad users.

In April, Apple blocked apps that accessed unique identifiers (UDID) used by marketing firms to track users as they switched between apps.

Scores of apps were found to have siphoned off UDIDs and other personal data stored on Apple devices to third parties without user consent.

In response, marketers began to track alternatives including the Open Device Identification Number (ODIN), a unique and cross-platform mobile phone identifier, and OpenUDID, which stored a unique identifier in Apple’s iOS copy-and-paste facility.

Mazda told The Wall Street Journal it was unaware of its advertising agency's switch, but would welcome using the technology "as soon as we know for sure Apple isn't going to smash it”.

OpenUDID, developed by AppsFire cofounder Yann Lechelle, had received backing from 17 mobile software and marketing companies while the rival ODIN platform was maintained by a group of developers and service providers.

The marketing firms claimed they would lose “millions of dollars a week in revenue” without the ability to track users.

Fiksu vice president Craig Palli said switching platforms involves “significant costs” including “time to market, roadmap tradeoffs and development resources” with each platform requiring “code work and testing by app developers, app publishers, ad networks and supply side platforms”.

 
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