How to disable advertising ID tracking on iOS and Android, and why you should do it now

An advertising identifier – also known as “IDFA” on iOS or “AAID” on Android – is the key that enables most third-party tracking on mobile devices. Disabling it will make it more difficult for advertisers and data brokers to track and characterize you, and will limit the amount of your personal information for sale.

This post explains the history of device advertising identifiers and how they have enabled ongoing tracking, identification, and other privacy violations.

But first things first. Here’s how to revoke the tracker’s access to your ad ID now:

on Android

open the Settings app , and go to Privacy > advertisements. handle”Delete Ad ID, then tap it again on the next page to confirm. This will prevent any app on your phone from accessing it in the future.
Screenshot of the Delete Ad ID page on Android.  This page allows you to choose to delete the advertising identifier.

on iOS

Apple requests apps get permission before they can access your IDFA. When you install a new app, it may ask for your permission to track you.

Screenshot of the dialog that appears when an app wants to track activity.
source

Choose “Ask the app not to be trackedto deny him access to IDFA.

To see which apps you have previously granted access to, go to Settings > Privacy > tracking. The list should look like this:

Screenshot for iOS "Allow apps to request tracking" to choose.

Here you can disable tracking for individual apps that have previously received permission. Only apps with tracking permission will be able to access your IDFA.

you can set “Allow apps to request tracking“switch to”turning off(Scroll bar to the left, background is gray). This will prevent apps from requesting tracking in the future. If you’ve given apps permission to track you in the past, this will prompt you to ask these Apps to stop tracking too. You also have the option to grant or revoke tracking access on a per-app basis.

Apple has its own targeted advertising system, separate from the third-party tracking it makes available with IDFA. To disable it, go to Settings > Privacy > Apple ads:

Screenshot of Apple iOS ads list.  This page allows you to choose to turn off identifier (personalized ads).
source

hiring “Personal ads“switch to”turning offTo disable Apple ad targeting.

Date

In the early days of smartphones, Trackers use persistent hardware identifiers – “Unique Device Identifier” (UDID) on iOS, and “Android ID” on Android – for tracking users across apps. These identifiers were unique, permanent, and frequently accessed by third parties without the user’s knowledge or consent.

This was rightly considered a user privacy issue. a Achievement 2010 By the Wall Street Journal revealed the extent of the case, and in 2011, then A series of survey questions From members of the US Congress, Apple started Restricting access to UDID.

The industry has already started to rely on UDID-related data collection, and Trackers scrambled to adapt to the change. Then, in 2012, Apple Quietly Introduce Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA). The IDFA was almost identical to the UDID it replaced: it was a globally unique identifier that was available to all applications by default. The biggest difference was that IDFA could be reset – although this was only possible if users knew what to look for. Apple also allowed users to enable a setting called “Limit ad tracking.” Send this a signal to the apps They are asked not to be trackedbut it didn’t actually affect the apps’ ability to access IDFA.

Android She followed suit in 2013We provide Android Advertising Identifier (AAID). Like Apple, Google has made its ID available to all apps by default, without any special permission. It also allowed users to reset their advertising ID, but without restricting or deleting access to it.

In 2016, Apple updated Limit Ad Tracking to Set the IDFA to a string of zeros Effectively delete it. This means that for the first time, users had the option to effectively and technically opt out of IDFA tracking.

In 2021, Apple introduced Application tracking transparency (ATT), which requires apps to obtain confirmed consent before they can track users using IDFA or any other identifier. this was Huge impact on the tracking industry. Whereas previously, about 20% of users chose to opt out of tracking (meaning 4 out of 5 were “selected”), after the change, The vast majority of users Chose not to allow tracking. Assumptions are important.

Meanwhile, Android finally I started putting it up A way for users to opt out of their advertising ID. As of April 1, 2022, Android is also asking developers to request separate permission to access the Advertising ID. However, this is treated as a file then “normal”, which means that users don’t see any popup asking for their consent. Despite the advertising ID’s central role in enabling third-party tracking, the developer’s documentation states that this type of permission is intended for data that presents “a very small risk to user privacy”. In other words, Android advertising ID is still exposed on opt-out basis, and users have to do their best to defend their privacy on the platform.

In February, Google also pointed out It may eventually lead to the phasing out of the advertising identifier altogether. It plans to bring a version of the Privacy Sandbox framework to mobile devices to support behavioral advertising “without reliance on cross-app identifiers.” But Google assured developers that it would not change anything substantive about the advertising identifier “for at least two years”.

why does it matter

An advertising identifier is a string of letters and numbers that uniquely identifies your phone, tablet, or other smart device. It exists for one purpose: to help companies track you.

Third party trackers collect data via applications on your device. The advertising identifier allows them to associate data from different sources with a single identity for you. Plus, since every app and tracker sees the same ID, it allows data brokers to compare notes about you. Broker A can buy data from broker B, and then use the advertising identifier to link the two data sets together. Simply put, the advertising identifier is the key that enables a whole host of privacy damages: invasive third-party profiling by Facebook And The GoogleAnd pseudoscientific psychological targeting By political advisors such as Cambridge Analytica and Location tracking by the US Army.

Sometimes, data path participants may argue that the advertising identifier is anonymous or pseudo anonymousnot Personally Identifiable Informationand hints that they do not pose a serious threat to privacy. This is not true in practice. First, the advertising identifier is commonly used to help collect data that is clearly personally identifiable, such as precise location data. If you can find out where a person works, sleeps, studies, socializes, worships, and seeks medical care, you don’t need their email address to help identify them. The second, is The whole industry It exists to help trackers associate ad identifiers with more direct identifying information, such as email addresses and phone numbers. In a vacuum, an advertising identifier might be anonymous, but in the context of the tracking industry, it’s a ubiquitous and effective identifier.

Disabling this identifier makes it difficult for most advertisers and data brokers to track you. These industries process data from millions or billions of users daily, and rely on convenient technologies like advertising ID to make this kind of scale possible. Removing this tool from their toolbox will reduce the data that can be associated with you in the wild. Not only is it good for your privacy, but it also makes the surveillance advertising industry less profitable. And don’t take our word for it: Facebook said Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature will do just that Reducing the company’s sales for 2022 by about 10 billion dollars.

But while it’s a good first step, removing your advertising ID won’t stop all tracking. If you are concerned about a specific privacy threat to yourself or someone you know, check out our other resources, including Digital Security and Privacy Advice for Those Involved in Abortion Access. You can also check out EFF’s guides for self-defense against censorship, including Personal Safety PlansAnd Attend a protestAnd Privacy on mobile phones. These resources are organized into playlists like this for Reproductive health care providers, researchers and advocates.

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