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Jobs: iPhone ad SDK changes for user privacy, not anti-competitive


Changes made to the iPhone SDK which restrict app developers from forwarding private data to advertising analytics companies were made to protect users' privacy, Steve Jobs told interviewers at All Things Digital.

The change supports Apple's existing privacy policy, which was being violated by developers, perhaps unintentionally, when they included ad network code into their apps, which subsequently began to forward private data about the device and the user's location to a third party network.

The change was triggered by reports published by Flurry Analytics, which harvested the data and found evidence of unreleased devices on Apple's campus, which it subsequently published on its website.

Jobs was noticeably agitated about Flurry's ability to remotely monitor devices within Apple's campus, noting that "we were really naive about this stuff," and explaining that the company first discovered the collection of privately identifying information was going on after reading about Flurry's reports of unreleased new iPhones and other tablet devices in the news.

"It's violating every rule in our privacy policy," Jobs boomed. "We went through the roof about this. So we said: No, we're not going to allow this. It's violating our privacy policies and its pissing us off that they're publishing data about our new products.

"So we said we are only going to allow these analytics that don't give device information and therefore are solely for the purpose of advertising," Jobs said. "We're not going to be the only advertiser. There's others, and we're not banning other advertisers from our platforms.

"They can do that. But they can't send data out to an analytics firm who is going to sell it to make money and publish it to tell everybody that we have devices on our campus that we don't want people to know about. That," Jobs said, "we don't need to do."

Jobs acknowledged that there are legitimate uses of data analysis by app developers, if users are appropriately appraised of the fact that their data is being shared. "After we calm down, we're willing to talk to some of these analytics firms," Jobs said. "But it's not today."