Apple will limit third-party tracking in children’s apps

Advancement in technology is not all sunshine and rainbows. There is a dark price we must pay to enjoy our new tech. That price is a loss of our privacy. Most of the apps on our iPhones share data with marketing agencies and other third parties.

Apple will reportedly limit third-party tracking in children’s apps

Apple is one of the most popular phones available today. Recently, many reports have been surfacing about how apps misuse the data they collect from our phones. As a result, Apple has finally taken some steps to limit ad tracking through apps.

Ad tracking is especially dangerous when it comes to children. As adults, we know better than to divulge personal information through ads and unknown sites. Unfortunately, children do not. When targeted ads pop up on children’s phones they are likely to open and offer sensitive information.

Exactly How Bad is the Tracking Situation?

In fact, in 2018, US mobile ad spend was estimated at USD 30.3 billion, USD 15.7 billion of which was going towards location targeting. That is if you search for something like Cox near me, it will redirect you to Cox services in your location. Joanna Stern, of The Wall Street Journal, found 79 out of 80 apps in her child’s iPhone had trackers. A children’s iOS app called Curious World was sending her son’s name, age, and books to Facebook.

Lumen conducted a similar study to find out how many apps track user data. They analyzed more than 5000 apps. The study found that 7 in 10 apps shared user data with at least one tracker. Off these apps, 15 percent actually connected to five or more trackers. 25 percent trackers collected and shared at least one unique device identifier. That is either the phone number connected with the device or the 15-digit IMEI number.

In a recent ad, Apple used the catchphrase, “What happens on your iPhone, Stays on your iPhone”. But Geoffrey A. Fowler, a technology columnist at The Washington Post found out otherwise. At night, he closed all the apps on his iPhone and left it in standby mode. In the morning, he found out that apps had been sharing his data with third-party applications.

A company called Amplitude received his location, email, and phone number. Then another called Appboy received the digital fingerprint of his phone. Similarly, another company called Demdex received information about his phone. Demdex even sent back a list of other trackers for the phone to connect with. In fact, during a week, he encountered over 5,400 trackers on his phone.

What is Apple Doing to Fix It?

First Apple launched their own parental control app as a feature in their iOS 12. But at the same time, they banned other leading parental control apps. The reason being it was risky to allow mobile device management (MDM) features to third parties.

An article in The Wall Street Journal stated Apple plans to make a statement during the 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The article suggested that Apple would set new limitations on third-party trackers for children’s apps.

Since the WWDC on 3rd June this year, Apple has updated its policy for third-party apps. Apps categorized under the Kids section aren’t allowed to include third-party analytics. The new terms also restrict the use of third-party ads on the apps.

Additionally, Apple’s new policy secures children’s apps from like that direct outside the app. And one of the most admirable changes in policy is that in-app purchasing will no longer be an issue. Apple has denied children’s app developers from including in-app purchasing features.

It’s clear that Apple is taking steps to protect children from falling victim to trackers. But there is more that can be done.

How Can You Protect Your Children?

Of course, parental tracking apps and features exist. You can use them to keep track of what your children are doing on their iPhones. But how likely is it that you’re going to spend the entire day tracking your child’s usage? There has to be a better solution.

According to tech experts, you can limit add tracking on your child’s iPhone. Using the Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) feature, you can improve the privacy of their phones. In iPhones that use iOS versions older than iOS 10 when you activated the LAT feature, it didn’t do much. Yes, it would flag the users wish as a request. But the identifier for advertisers (IDFA) was still visible. And it was at the company’s discretion to honor the LAT request.

Fortunately, today more than 90 percent of US iPhone users have switched to iOS 10 or above.


App developers today often misuse the data collected from user’s phones. Of course, not all apps do that. Some apps like the Contour TV app don’t redirect vital information to third parties.  Apple has taken some serious measures to stop ad trackers from targeting children. But it is best to protect your children’s privacy by limiting the ad tracking on their iPhones.

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Article Author Details

Rosie Harman

Rosie Harman has 10 years of experience in the field of Information Technology. Currently she is working for contour tv and writing Pet Blogs.