Apple quietly change from UDID to two new Identifiers and start tracking you

Michael Apple, Apple iPhone, iPad, Mobile, TechTalk

In IOS 6 Apple have quietly changed from the old UDID to two new identifiers. Before I go into any detail its important to understand what the old and new acronyms are or you may as well be reciting the alphabet in a random order.

Old Identifier UDID – Unique Device Identifier
New Identifiers IDFA – Identifier For Advertising
IDFV – Identifier For Vendor

What is a “UDID”?

This is your phones Unique Device Identifier. In  the past each phone had a single UDID, if you you bought the phone and then sold it or gave it to someone else, the UDID would go with the phone. For advertisers this is a nightmare because it causes cross contamination. In other words, if I liked camping and cycling, then sold you my phone and you enjoyed computers and developing then how would a publisher/advertiser know what to deliver to your phone? the UDID they have says that your phone likes camping, cycling, computers and developing.

[quote]Good for us bad for them – Because of the cross contamination of data this means that all info advertisers and publishers have on us cannot be used in the long term to try build up personal profiles. The UDID was tied to your phone and at any point you can get rid of it, change it and they would never know.[/quote]

Your IDFA / IDFV !

Hi, please may I have your IDFA. Oh hang on with IOS 6 Apple gives this out by default!  Around a year ago Apple and Android were in the headlines because they were quietly collecting your location information. Both organisations made very quick changes to privacy and tried to make it clear what they were doing….or so you thought.

According to Apple, the IDFA is “A non-permanent, non-personal device identifier that apps will use to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to use tracking methods” In other words everytime you get a new device you will get a new IDFA. Im not sure how thats going to work on multiple devices though because my iPad will have a different IDFA number to my iPhone. It sounds to me like we are back to square one with the UDID UNLESS…. they are linking it to your iTunes account? Whilst I cannot find anything that says they are doing this, there is nothing that says they are not. It will be good to see in some tests if the two devices IDFA’s are the same. If they are then suddenly it will not be so anonymous anymore, it would mean that anyone with access to that database could potentially be able to link EVERY IDFA and Apple account together? Not so anonymous anymore considering Apple has access to both databases, they will now know more about what you do and have done since the start of IDFA.

[quote]Its all smoke and mirrors anyway[/quote]

The advertisers can get your name, number and address with either way of the “anonymous” UDID or IDFA tracking. If they point you to a web page with your anonymous unique id, the second you make a purchase or call to action in an app they will know who you are, you are going to give them your name, number and physical address, all it takes is the ability to match 1 + 1.

You are powerless

Unless you opt out… manually, and keep your eyes on them! So in a few short steps lets start fighting back, if as many people as possible opt out then it starts affecting their bottom dollar, if only a few people do it, well at least they are a few dollars shorter than they would have been for being so sneaky!

[quote]Strange that they even thought of burying the opt out in such an odd place. The opt out is NOT under “Privacy” like you would imagine, its somewhere completely irrelevant and illogical and when you find it you wont know whats on and whats off! Then  you will need to turn it off again somewhere else![/quote]

Once you have been through the process of turning off or was that on???? the advertising tracking you may want to go into the privacy settings and turn off location based iAds… how this differs just baffles me. So I think they have successfully achieved their goal! Most people will go into privacy and disable this if they are concerned not even knowing they have not actually disabled anything really!

Michael is a Technology & Digital Consultant to the Real Estate, Property, Travel and Tourism industies with over 13 Years of leading Technical teams & Programme Management. He has worked with agencies in multiple countries and cities from the UK, New York, Russia, France, Dubai to Australia and South Africa. In his spare time he is a commercial drone pilot that dabbles with Photography & Videography.

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