Michael Tsai, in conclusion of his post about the implications of section 3.3.1 of the new iPhone Developer Agreement, asks “What will the next rule change be?” That did’t take long. MacStories has now exposed section 3.3.9, which bans collection of statistical data.

  • All use of User Data collected or obtained through an Application must be limited to the same purpose as necessary to provide services or functionality for such Application. For example, the use of User Data collected on and used in a social networking Application could be used for the same purpose on the website version of that Application; however, the use of location-based User Data for enabling targeted advertising in an Application is prohibited unless targeted advertising is the purpose of such Application (e.g., a geo-location coupon application).

  • You may only provide or disclose User Data to third parties as necessary for providing services or functionality for the Application that collected the User Data, and then only if You receive express user consent. For example, if Your Application would like to post a message from a user to a third party social networking site, then You may only share the message if the user has explicitly indicated an intention to share it by clicking or selecting a button or checking a box that clearly explains how the message will be shared.

  • Notwithstanding anything else in this Agreement, Device Data may not be provided or disclosed to a third party without Apple’s prior written consent. Accordingly, the use of third party software in Your Application to collect and send Device Data to a third party for processing or analysis is expressly prohibited.

It looks good for privacy. Basically, it forbids developers from collecting statistics about the habits of their users, unless the software has a legitimate need to communicate some info to the outside.

It also forbids communication of “device data” to a third party. My interpretation of this is that a developer can collect statistics about the OS version and other such things (only when the application needs communicating with the developer’s server for legitimate reasons), but must not disclose those statistics to anyone.

I’m no fan of website, applications, or advertising firms collecting data about my habits without my consent, so in a way I can’t be against rules improving privacy. However, I find that the non-disclosure of device data goes a little too far: there’s nothing wrong about communicating interesting statistics.

Unfortunately, my guess is that Apple won’t hold itself to the same standards (Apple is not a third-party in this agreement). If an application uses Apple’s iAds, most likely you’ll get targeted advertising based on your current location, and data will be collected by Apple about your habits. This data can also easily be linked to your iTunes account. In some way, it’s worse for privacy: as developers switch to iAds all this information will be concentrated in one company’s hands: Apple.

AdMob (now owned by Google) and other mobile advertising services (MediaLets, MobClix) are going to be most affected by this change. While it doesn’t prevent others from offering advertisement services, the value of their ads will be severely crippled by these rules.

And obviously, third party analytic services (Flurry, SimpleGeo) are now banned from the iPhone. It’s possible that analytics becomes part of iAds, but I’m sure Apple will not share this data very easily.

  • © 2003–2018 Michel Fortin.