New Mobile Tracking Dos and Don’ts from Apple


We wrote in the past about how Apple was addressing privacy concerns about mobile tracking by restricting the identifiers that mobile developers can use to track devices. Apple announced in 2011 that developers moving forward would only be permitted to track an iOS device using Apple’s new Advertising Identifier (IDFA).  Despite the fact that this identifier was specifically labeled as for advertising purposes, some companies assumed it could be used for analytics as well.

However, in February, reports began to surface indicating that the App Store was rejecting new apps that used the IDFA for analytics but did not host ads. This raised the concern that analytics were not going to be allowed for any purpose.

In its new iTunes Connect module for developers, Apple explains how the IDFA can and cannot be used within apps distributed on the App Store.

Developers must now specifically indicate as part of their app submission to Apple whether they use the IDFA to serve ads within an app, as well as whether they attribute app installation or other actions within the app to a previously served advertisement. Thus, Apple is permitting the use of the IDFA for serving ads and tracking conversion events.  Other limited uses of the IDFA may yet be permissible, as Apple suggests that developers contact them if they believe they have another acceptable use for the identifier.

As we have mentioned before, The IDFA is subject to a user controlled privacy setting labeled “Limit Ad Tracking” and found within “Settings –> Privacy –> Advertising –> Limit Ad Tracking” in iOS 7 (in iOS 6, the setting is at “General –> About –> Advertising –> Limit Ad Tracking”).

The new language also clarifies that an application, as well as any third party that interfaces with the application, is subject to the new rules. More discussion of the new iTunes Connect module can be found at TechCrunch here.