Revised iOS ad policy cuts independents a break, makes it tougher for Google

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It comes as no surprise — since Steve Jobs hinted at it during D8 — that Apple has once again revised the controversial section 3.3.9 of its iOS developer agreement. Section 3.3.9 deals specifically with what App Store applications can and cannot do when it comes to the collection of user and device data. The new modifications seem to be more lenient towards independent ad agencies; allowing them to collect user data after obtaining explicit permission from Apple to do so. However, what they’re not so lenient towards is allowing non-independent ad agencies, such as Google’s AdMob, to collect user and device data. The language of the agreement seems to create a legal loophole, that, if exercised, would allow Apple to cut AdMob out of serving ads to its iOS devices:

3.3.9 You and Your Applications may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent, and then only under the following conditions:

- The collection, use or disclosure is necessary in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the use of the Application. For example, without Apple’s prior written consent, You may not use third party analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.

- The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.

At last week’s D8 conference, Jobs singled out ad agency Flurry for its role in outing prototype iPads through the collection of device data embedded in iPad applications. Apple insists that its data collection policies are about protecting the privacy of its users and not thwarting competition.

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