Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Oct 2012 11:35 UTC
Apple Surprise, surprise - Apple, by default, tracks web browsing behaviour and location to better serve you ads. You have to specifically opt out of this tracking per individual iOS device that you own. Now we know why Apple has no problem with turning on 'Do Not Track' and not accepting tracking cookies by default: it has no effect on them whatsoever, because iOS 6 has its own independent user tracking mechanisms. Unlike what the Apple pundits claim, it's got nothing to do with respect for user privacy at all. Well paint me red and call me a girl scout: company selling ads tracks user behaviour. Shocker, huh?
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Hope they give up ads
by Torbjorn Vik Lunde on Fri 12th Oct 2012 11:42 UTC
Torbjorn Vik Lunde
Member since:
2009-09-04

One of the things I really liked with Apple is that they where not an ad company. I pay for something and then they give it to me. Simple.

I still really hope they give this up. If it’s about not letting Google take all the mobile ads, then why not strike a deal with someone like Yahoo and let them do the ads. (With tracking turned off by default — or at the very least is something that is asked by the user and super easy to turn off.)

Microsoft also does ads (MSN), but are they going to integrate it into their OS? I hope we don’t get into a situation where there are no big players left that aren’t ad companies.

Reply Score: 4

Selective tech amnesia
by kholinar on Fri 12th Oct 2012 11:56 UTC
kholinar
Member since:
2007-09-10

Surprise, surprise... The opt out page has been up from the very beginning and was widely publicized in the tech press. Must be a slow week waiting for the new iPad.

From 2010, with the introduction of iads: http://allthingsd.com/20100621/apple-heres-how-to-opt-out-of-our-ta...

So how long did it take all the other ad companies to post opt outs?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Selective tech amnesia
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 12th Oct 2012 12:09 UTC in reply to "Selective tech amnesia"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Yup, but ask yourself: how many users are aware of this? Heck, how many people here were aware of the fact Apple tracks you in the first place? With all the talk from the Apple pundits about how Apple hates tracking and about how tracking is evil and about how Apple is so into protecting user's privacy, you'd think Apple wouldn't do this.

And yet they do. That is news to me, and considering how this story has been around the web these past few days, it's news to a lot of people. It puts to rest all those silly arguments about Apple turning on DNT by default and blocking cookies because they respect privacy - they only do it because it doesn't affect them and because it hurts competitors.

If Apple really cared about privacy, they would turn off their own tracking by default, instead of forcing you to opt out every iOS device you own. It delightfully exposes the hypocrisy of people like Gruber and Siegler.

Edited 2012-10-12 12:10 UTC

Reply Score: 6

steventroughtonsmith Member since:
2012-05-06

iOS has an ad system; you see ads in apps. The two options are:

• See ads that have absolutely no relevance to you
• See ads that you might actually like

There is no utopic third option.

I'll keep tracking on, thank you very much.

(Also note that iAd is only available in a handful of countries: USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Canada.)

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Selective tech amnesia
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 12th Oct 2012 12:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I prefer tracking too. I'd rather have relevant ads than irrelevant ads. If I don't want to be tracked, I load up a private tab.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Selective tech amnesia
by TechGeek on Fri 12th Oct 2012 17:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia"
TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

Here's a crazy idea. Instead of tracking me everywhere I go, give me a list of topics and let me choose which ones interest me. Then I don't have too much of my personal info out there in the ether and they still get to send me ads. I know, I know, the idea is just crazy.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Selective tech amnesia
by WorknMan on Fri 12th Oct 2012 21:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

• See ads that have absolutely no relevance to you
• See ads that you might actually like

There is no utopic third option.


Actually, there is - don't install apps with ads - or if you're rooted/jailbroken, install an ad blocker. Problem solved. Not that I want everything for free... I'll gladly pay for an app I like, if the developer gives me the option as an alternative to adware. If not? F**k 'em ;)

For me, it's not the tracking that pisses me off, but the advertising; the only reason they want to track you is so they can serve you up relevant ads. But if you can eliminate most/all the ways they have to advertise to you, then you essentially cut them off at the knees, and all their tracking is a waste of time. I have an ad-blocker installed on my Android phone. Thus, I get zero ads, so they're more than welcome to waste their time tracking me. In fact, I hope they do ;)

Edited 2012-10-12 21:25 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Selective tech amnesia
by darknexus on Fri 12th Oct 2012 21:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Selective tech amnesia"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I'll gladly pay for an app I like, if the developer gives me the option as an alternative to adware. If not? F**k 'em ;)

Agree 100%. I simply don't use apps with ads. If I try the app and I like it, I'll pay for the non-ad version in a heartbeat. The only purpose apps with ads serve on my device is as trialware for the app itself. If I like it then I pay for it, if I don't then I uninstall it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Selective tech amnesia
by UltraZelda64 on Fri 12th Oct 2012 21:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

iOS has an ad system; you see ads in apps. The two options are:

• See ads that have absolutely no relevance to you
• See ads that you might actually like

Me? Like ads? What kind of fantasy land are you living in? Just seeing or even hearing an ad does nothing but piss me off. It's just another reason to never touch an Apple product again. They impressed and tempted me at one time a few years ago with Mac OS X, but damn, I'm glad I've never bought any of their hardware. They make the old, super-monopolistic Microsoft of the 90s look like nothing more than an annoying little flea.

Not that Microsoft isn't still playing at their old games, but at least they seem to try to hide it and be subtle about it. The worst thing Microsoft's done recently is decide that with their godly powers all ARM machines shipping with Windows (read: virtually all of them) will be forbidden from running an OS that is not blessed by them. Apple... wow, the list goes on.

Apple is like the Microsoft of the 90s, but potentially much, much worse.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Selective tech amnesia
by darknexus on Fri 12th Oct 2012 22:40 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Selective tech amnesia"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Not that Microsoft isn't still playing at their old games, but at least they seem to try to hide it and be subtle about it.

Speaking for myself, I'd rather a company not be subtle about what they're doing. Better that I know precisely what I'm dealing with when I buy from someone as opposed to having something sneak up on me.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Selective tech amnesia
by UltraZelda64 on Sat 13th Oct 2012 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Selective tech amnesia"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Speaking for myself, I'd rather a company not be subtle about what they're doing. Better that I know precisely what I'm dealing with when I buy from someone as opposed to having something sneak up on me.

Everyone should know by now that this is the same company that found themselves fighting the U.S. government over monopolistic anti-trust issues just over a decade ago. So it should be pretty obvious, despite their recent sneakiness, that if you choose them they should to be monitored like a baby. That really makes them no different than a company that blatantly does is stuff.

I would go as far as saying that no matter what company you consider doing business with, always do a background check. After all--when was the last time anyone got a job at some company that didn't require a thorough background check on all of their potential employees? Trust works both ways.

I automatically do not trust any company until they've been proven. That solves things for the most part.

BTW, Apple can be pretty subtle too. It seems that they used to be even more subtle, but that was when they were smaller. It really seems like Microsoft and Apple are trading places in the way they pull off questionable moves.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia
by Headrush on Fri 12th Oct 2012 14:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Selective tech amnesia"
Headrush Member since:
2006-01-03

It's also worth noting how many smart phones users couldn't care less about tracking for ad purposes.

The problem is users, even when informed don't know, don't care, or don't understand some of the implications by allowing companies and governments to use these tracking/snooping tools.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia
by kovacm on Fri 12th Oct 2012 21:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Selective tech amnesia"
kovacm Member since:
2010-12-16

Yup, but ask yourself: how many users are aware of this? Heck, how many people here were aware of the fact Apple tracks you in the first place? With all the talk from the Apple pundits about how Apple hates tracking and about how tracking is evil and about how Apple is so into protecting user's privacy, you'd think Apple wouldn't do this.

LOL!

tryo to listen interview with Eric Schmidt

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/1249127/events/1589787

and than come back to talk about privacy!! ;)

Reply Score: 3

v RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia
by jessesmith on Sat 13th Oct 2012 00:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Selective tech amnesia"
RE: Selective tech amnesia
by Thomas2005 on Fri 12th Oct 2012 14:33 UTC in reply to "Selective tech amnesia"
Thomas2005 Member since:
2005-11-07

Surprise, surprise... The opt out page has been up from the very beginning and was widely publicized in the tech press. Must be a slow week waiting for the new iPad.

I have a great question. Why should we even have to opt out of being tracked instead of having to make a conscious effort to opt in to be tracked?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Selective tech amnesia
by phoudoin on Fri 12th Oct 2012 15:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Selective tech amnesia"
phoudoin Member since:
2006-06-09

Why should we even have to opt out of being tracked instead of having to make a conscious effort to opt in to be tracked?


Default values are set according to interest's of the one making it default.

If it was off by default, end user may ignore that his behavior *could* generate profitable knowledge to you.

If it is on by default, end user may ignore that his behavior *is* generating profitable knowledge to you.

Search no more.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by edvim
by edvim on Fri 12th Oct 2012 12:22 UTC
edvim
Member since:
2010-03-12

As distasteful as this revelation is, the big problem is awareness by the population at large. IT news sources may or may not propagate this story but the ones who are affected the most by Apple's smoke-and-mirrors practices simply don't get all the details about what's going on.
Also, I very much doubt the FTC and the various courts involved in suing Google over Safari browser cookie issues care about what Apple has been doing.

Reply Score: 2

I've come around ..or maybe through
by fadingdust on Fri 12th Oct 2012 12:58 UTC
fadingdust
Member since:
2009-11-05

So we all hate ads; sure. I get that. And everyone loves a good privacy debate.

But what about this bugs us? What part of the fact that "they" are "tracking" "us"? What if it was your own software, would you be ok with it "tracking" you? What if your tracking-history was able to be monitored & edited (more like https://history.google.com)?

For all the fuss put up about this, I wonder if a little bit of control was placed back in (editing histories & downloadable data), this could get reasonable.

The trouble with editing/downloading however, what about the "tracking me" part of it? Plenty of websites "track" without user-differentiation; if I were able to view their tracking history of my IP or my browser-settings, it would then show me other people's histories on my rotating-IP..

Sadly, the ad-industry is tied to commerce generally. There's little structurally that can be done, short of attempting to reinforce top-down user-respectful methods like donation/investment. But the history of business is the history of one man getting around another, finding an open loophole in a plan and exploiting it. And ultimately, putting ads in our faces exist because business owners (ad-firm clients) think they should.

Otherwise, if you don't want them tracking, and don't donate, don't use their websites/products. Flash CM10 already, be part of an underground; run your own web-filter-proxy.. something even I do.

Reply Score: 2

flypig Member since:
2005-07-13

Otherwise, if you don't want them tracking, and don't donate, don't use their websites/products. Flash CM10 already, be part of an underground; run your own web-filter-proxy.. something even I do.

I agree that if people find this unsavoury (and in my view they should) then they should do something proactive about it.

Unfortunately one of the reasons that this bugs me so much is that it's a trend that leads to inevitability. Tracking becomes ubiquitous across all devices. Companies apply their best efforts to prevent you installing anything they don't like on your hardware. Governments get unchecked access to this data.

The best way to avoid the abuses of power that will result are to prevent the data being collected in the first place, in my opinion. But it's impossible to tackle this as an individual.

Reply Score: 4

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Though it probably is inevitable - in 50, or 200, or 500 years, with smart smart dust everywhere around, people(?) might be debating how per-cell monitoring of biological processes might be going too far...

Thing is, for many people now the smart dust alone would be quite scary and/or seen as an unimaginable invasion of privacy - even if also giving some nice perks. And I suppose, in the not-so-distant past, quite a few people felt unease if many others knew their "address" & were able to reach them easily.

So, it very well might be inevitable; part of civilisation ...your place has apparently ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCTV ) the highest number of cameras per capita - which seem to be moderately accepted, as are traffic cameras, or in particular the UK "total" number plate tracking system.
(BTW, I love the name of the main(?) Chinese TV station; together with many/most laptops having a built-in webcam, and Skype cameras being available for TVs, it brings a dream of one notable author from your Isles that much closer...)

Edited 2012-10-17 02:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

the root of the problem
by Janvl on Fri 12th Oct 2012 15:19 UTC
Janvl
Member since:
2007-02-20

Dear Thom, if you do not own devices with IOS then you do not have this problem.

Reply Score: 2

RE: the root of the problem
by darknexus on Fri 12th Oct 2012 20:24 UTC in reply to "the root of the problem"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Dear Thom, if you do not own devices with IOS then you do not have this problem.

Oh, of course, because Android/Google or Microsoft *never* track you, ever. Seriously get real. You don't want to be tracked somehow? Don't own a smart phone or any other interconnected device. It won't matter how many laws you put in place to prevent it, nor does it matter which web site you visit. If they want to track you, they will. You do notice that the options in web browsers have labels such as "ask web sites not to track me." You notice the word "ask?" That means, you know, that they don't have to obey. You put anti-tracking laws in one country? They'll host it in another. You ask pages not to track you? They will anyway. You opt out of ad tracking? You'll still get ads. If a page even *has* ads, those ads can track you in turn. Don't accept cookies? They have other, server-side ways of tracking visitors and viewers. Plus, you think your ISP or carrier isn't logging every little thing you send, just waiting to hand it over to someone? Ads are a trend as old as technology itself, starting from the hand-made billboard, through the television, and now on to the internet. If you want ads and ad-related tracking to stop, there's only one thing we can do, though it would require the collaboration of the entire human race. Never view them, never click on them, and never buy from a company that uses them. That will, of course, never happen so you might as well get used to it.

Reply Score: 5

whartung
Member since:
2005-07-06

This seems to be about iAds, and not about Safari at all. AFAIK iAds isn't a generic web based ad network, but only for apps, and the opt out doesn't mention Safari at all. Safari has it's own switch to disable location tracking.

Where does it say that they're tracking web traffic?

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Where does it say that they're tracking web traffic?

And where do you think data about your interest would come from if not web browsing? This isn't really about your location (there's a separate switch in settings to disable iAd's location tracking) but about serving ads based on your interests. In order to do that, they *must* be gathering data about what you view and where you surf. What I wonder is, does this apply to non-Safari web browsers? The opt out page only works in Safari, and it is not using a User-Agent header to determine this. This in turn means Safari has at least some part in the tracking, otherwise the web page would work in other browsers when they're broadcasting an identical mobile Safari user-agent.

Reply Score: 2

whartung Member since:
2005-07-06

"Where does it say that they're tracking web traffic?

And where do you think data about your interest would come from if not web browsing? This isn't really about your location (there's a separate switch in settings to disable iAd's location tracking) but about serving ads based on your interests. In order to do that, they *must* be gathering data about what you view and where you surf.
"

Could be based on App Store surfing and purchase history. The opt out page wants your iTunes account to perform the opt out. I'm sure someone, somewhere, has logged all of the traffic going and out of the phone, and if there were surreptitious traffic heading to trackme.apple.com, I'd like to think we'ns would have heard about it by now.

Reply Score: 2

One thing to keep in mind
by darknexus on Fri 12th Oct 2012 20:30 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Just because you opt out doesn't necessarily mean that data isn't still being sent. You won't see interest-based ads, but that in and of itself does not mean the tracking is not still occurring.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by marcp
by marcp on Fri 12th Oct 2012 21:07 UTC
marcp
Member since:
2007-11-23

Wow, this is sad and crazy. I'm amazed Thom's using Apple products, but well ... It's his choice ;)

Reply Score: 1

Blatant abuse
by Tractor on Sun 14th Oct 2012 23:30 UTC
Tractor
Member since:
2006-08-18

So, to tell it in my own words :
Apple's Safari blocks all those "evil" tracking cookies from ad companies (such as, ow, Google) in order to "save user privacy".
That leads to official communication from Apple, for good measure.
That in turns leads to Google getting sued by ITC for circumventing the cookie mechanism, on behalf of all thoses users which privacy has been raped (ouh ! bad Google, bad !) with record-setting fine.

Oh, and by the way, while all other ad agencies are blocked from tracking you, Apple's own iAd agency does track you. But, that's all so much better, because thanks to the tracking, you'll get "more refined" ad, instead of random annoying ones. Yeah, don't lament about user privacy, this is so "passé".
For this fact, obviously, there was no communication from Apple. Useless, really, who care ?

However, if you are among the most aware people on Earth, you may be able to turn off the iAd tracking option within some obscure menu hidden within a multi-click window no one ever drags on the screen. But the option is there. So Apple is safe : it gives users choice.

Choice to be tracked by Google (off by default).
Choice to not be tracked by Apple (on by default).
Btw, even if you turn off "Apple tracker", you are still tracked. It's just not used by iAd, just to make you feel safe.

Is it me, or i just don't get how ITC is not suing Apple for this practice in the name of user interest ?
And why Google is not attacking Apple for blatant monopolist practice ?
Microsoft got scrutinized for something equivalent. So why is Apple once again getting "special favor" here ?

Reply Score: 1

Complete non-issue
by wocowboy on Mon 15th Oct 2012 08:46 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

So Apple tracks web surfing, and what do they do with this information? They serve you ads, based on what you evidently look for and at on the internet. Do they do anything nefarious with this info other than serve you ads? Do they give this information to the government? Have they ever given this information to the government? Has this information ever led to the conviction of a crime such as terrorism? I don't see a problem at all. I don't look at the ads anyway.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Complete non-issue
by Tractor on Mon 15th Oct 2012 12:03 UTC in reply to "Complete non-issue"
Tractor Member since:
2006-08-18

Exactly my point.
A while ago, a short while ago,
Google tracking uninformed users on Safari was considered such an "horrible practice" that it got investigated by US FTC, and received a record-breaking fine for this "evil" act (for which, btw, Google was singled out of a large crow of Ad companies which were all doing the same).

But now that this is Apple which is doing it, there's no problem to that. You said yourself "I don't see a problem at all".

Double standard, once again.

Reply Score: 2