Why the iOS 'Limit Ad Tracking' setting is more important than ever

Using an iOS ad identifier for anything other than its intended purpose, or not respecting a user's Limit Ad Tracking settings can lead to an apps denial or removal from the App Store - and it should.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Apple has articulated what it consideres to be "acceptable uses" for the Advertising Identifier (IDFA) in iOS apps and it's requiring developer to sign an agreement stating that its apps won't exploit the unique ID for nefarious purposes. 

TechCrunch posted a screenshot of the new requirements:

Apple rolls out new Ad Identifier rules for app developers - Jason O'Grady
(Screenshot: TechCrunch)

In the new agreement, Apple asks developers to select how their app uses IDFAs from among the following applications:

  1. Serve advertisements within the app
  2. Attribute this app installation to a previously served advertisement
  3. Attribute an action taken within an app to a previously served advertisement

If a developer has another acceptable use for the Advertising Identifier, it asks them to contact Apple. In addition to spelling out how developers use the IDFA, it now requires them to check a box affirming that the app in question (and any third party that interfaces with the app) honors the user's Limit Ad Tracking setting, and when enabled, that it doesn't use the IDFA in any way other than for "Limited Advertising Purposes."

The changes come after Apple began to phase out the iOS UDID after it was sued for mobile app privacy breaches in 2010.

As I wrote in my piece on iOS privacy ("Four privacy settings you should enable in iOS 7 immediately") there are three things that you should do to protect your privacy when using an iPhone or iPad. Navigate to the iOS Advertising Privacy settings (Settings > Privacy > Advertising) and do the following:

  1. Turn ON "Limit Ad Tracking"
  2. Touch "Reset Advertising Identifier" (which I wrote about in January 2013) 
  3. Touch "Learn More" and learn about what an "Advertising Identifier" is
The iOS Limit Ad Tracking setting is now more important than ever - Jason O'Grady

Apple's Limit Ad Tracking setting now has real consequences for developers that misuse or ignore it and you should flip this handy little switch on all your iOS devices if you're concerned about maintaining your privacy. Hopefully will actively enforce this new policy and punish developers that violate its new guidelines. 

This move by Apple is a win for privacy-minded iOS users everywhere and I hope that developers take note. 

Editorial standards