Ad Networks Bypass iPhone Privacy Rules
By JOEL SCHECTMAN And JESSICA E. VASCELLARO June 5, 2012
Mobile ad networks are using new techniques to target iPhone users by circumventing Apple Inc.'s earlier efforts to protect user privacy.
Apple last summer said it would stop allowing app makers to use a unique identifier embedded in iPhones and iPads to track users as they move from app to app, which is an important way for advertisers to position their ads for appropriate audiences.
To avoid the limits of Apple's rules, ad networks that serve advertisements within mobile apps have started using new identifiers that collect information like location and preferences as the user moves across apps. One of the tracking systems is based on a unique identifier located in the iPhone's wireless networking hardware-a system known as Open Device Identification Number, or ODIN. The other prominent tracking alternative, called OpenUDID, uses the device's built-in copy-and-paste function.
These networks claim they will lose millions of dollars a week in revenue unless they can gather personal data from users to better target them. Privacy advocates argue these new techniques could allow marketers to identify individuals and violate unsuspecting users' privacy.