Apple resumes ad tracking efforts in iOS 6, here's how to turn it off

By on October 12, 2012, 1:30 PM

With the introduction of iOS 6, Apple also rolled out a new method of tracking users for advertisers and developers: IFA, IDFA or "ID for advertisers". Although the technology cannot be used to personally identify a user, it does however offer a detailed look into the user's browsing habits and ostensible interests. Business Insider notes though, the feature may be curiously tricky to disable for some users who wish to disable it.

IFA aims to fill the gap left by Apple's ban on developers using UUIDs to target ads. Unlike IFAs, which are temporary, randomly generated numbers capable of being destroyed and re-issued, UUIDs are unique strings which permanently identify a device -- forever. UUIDs also have the distinct disadvantage (or advantage, depending on your point of view) of being linked to your real-world identity, as this massive UUID leak showed us most recently.

Disabling the feature is simple enough -- but you have to know where to look. For whatever reason, Apple tucked away IFA's options in Settings under General > About > Advertising, instead of just putting it under Privacy, oddly enough. To further obfuscate matters, the actual ad control is called Limit Ad Tracking which needs to be enabled in order to disable tracking. By the way, shame on Apple for forcing users pay attention and read.

IFA is expected to be a boon for advertisers. The feature works a bit like a cookie, following users around when they visit websites and use certain apps. If a user has been shopping around for "ultrabooks" recently, advertisers can pick up on that and offer ultrabook ads to that user. Unlike previous methods, IFA also provides conversion, allowing ads to link directly to an app or purchase so companies can better monitor the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

User Comments: 9

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Guest said:

Thanks. Disabled.:)

Guest said:

Ok, first and formost, I have have had an iphone 3gs for almost 3 years. Its been an awesome and reliable phone. I have never once seen an ad come to me on the phone. If you mean they come through in free APPS that you download, these ads are coming to you anyways through the APP author, not apple. This so called "ad tracking" only classifies your ads, its DOES NOT FIX it since it is not BROKEN.

recap: the ads in apps will come anyways no matter what you do.

1 person liked this | SCJake said:

" the ads in apps will come anyways no matter what you do."

unless you root/cyanogenmod your android, which, you know, isnt a closed platform like crApple...

SCJake said:

Or just root and install adfree. forgot about that one

Gareis Gareis said:

Surprise, surprise.

k9182000 said:

Or just root and install adfree. forgot about that one

Lol yep Done & Done

likedamaster said:

Things like this from advertisers actually help in my case. If they can show me a list of cheaper models, etc. I'm all for it. there's obviously a downside, but so far it's been a help for me.

Guest said:

Information in this article is incorrect. Please research before posting about UUID's.

UDID: Unique Device Identifier

UUID: Unique User Identifier

IDFA: Identifier for Advertisers

UDID's are used within iOS 5 to directly identify a device. This tracks a user forever, and all information tied with it cannot be changed. It cannot be shut off either and is primarily why it has been deprecated. This would allow for publishers to sell these ids, even if the user does not agree.

UUID's are used within iOS 6 to directly identify with a certain publishers applications. This prevents publishers from selling these ids to others. These identifiers can only be used internally within a company, and serve no purpose elsewhere.

IDFA's are used within iOS 6 and are very similar to UDID's, in that they uniquely identifier the user across all applications. The only difference is that they can be shut off, if a user does not want targeted advertising.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Thanks. Disabled right away.

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