Saturday, October 13, 2012

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s IFA Codes spurs privacy concerns

Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) has gone and done something which advertisers had previously been unable to achieve. The company has activated IFA tracker codes along with their iOS 6 operating systems. This tracking system, however, is not for the phone so much as it is for the ads which people come across while browsing in their Apple Phones or tablets. These trackers are unique, and are per-device identifiers, which help advertisers, find out about how the users get to their advertisements through their phones. While the UDID codes have been prohibited from being used by the developers, this tracking system is quite different. It monitors the users’ movements to see if the advertisements were successful in making a user download an application or not.

The unofficial function was changed by Apple into an official system under the name if the IFA or the IFDA trackers, which stands for Identifier for Advertising. The devices which have iOS 6 installed in them, have had the IFA start automatically within the system. The IFA codes cannot be changed, very much unlike the tracker system of the UDID numbers. The IFA also helps link the publisher of various advertisements to the system, along with the ad servers, and the required ads immediately come up during browsing.

However, firms dealing with privacy laws are not too happy about the tracker. Despite the fact that the tracker is not interested in personally identifiable data, the very fact that it is tracking the users, and that it is a default mechanism in the operating system, has lead to raised eyebrows. When a user is downloading an app, the server, through the tracking device, can figure out how the user got to download the app. This mechanism and this data may be very important for advertisers, since such data was previously unavailable to them.

The tracker is on by default, and in order to switch it off, strangely enough, one has to press “on” instead of “off”. This has been driven by the fact that it is always on, and that people might want to switch on the off mode. The tracker providers really valuable data about behavior patterns specially in relation to marketing.


  1. "The tracker is on by default, and in order to switch it off, strangely enough, one has to press “on” instead of “off”."

    Having to select "on" to disable tbe feature is to confuse the user.
    What kind of company does that to their customer?

  2. Ironic, seeing as there was a big lawsuit of Google by Apple for doing something that was much-less intrusive through Safari browsers.


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