Apple rejects apps that access UDIDs

26 Mar 2012

Apple has begun rejecting apps that access unique identification numbers (UDIDs) that are unique to every iPhone and iPad. The move comes as the issue of apps that gather address book and location info comes under extra scrutiny from government and media.

Last year, researchers discovered iPhones were gathering location information while in recent months a whole furore arose over social app Path’s gathering of address book information from phones to its servers.

Apple has now moved to reject apps accessing UDIDs.

The big question is what impact will this have on the advertising industry, which uses UDISs to directly target users for advertising.

According to TechCrunch, US senators have written to 34 app developers, asking them how they gather UDID data and how advertisers use it to target advertising.

A Pandora’s Box has surely been opened at the dawn of the smartphone era, which is perhaps the perfect time for this issue to be resolved.

Users have a right to privacy and the idea of businesses knowing intimate information – what you are doing with your phone based on what apps you use – would gall anyone.

It is understood that the mobile industry is trying to come up with alternatives to UDIDs or permission-based mechanisms that would safeguard privacy, enshrine choice and still give marketers an accurate way of targeting ads.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years