Based on materials from bloomberg.com
If an app you deleted a week ago keeps popping up here and there, it may not be a coincidence at all. Companies wanting to please app developers managed to find loopholes in both iOS and Android, allowing them to find out which user recently deleted their software from their smartphone. And this makes it possible to bombard renegades with advertisements in order to get them back.
Companies offering app removal trackers, which usually come in a broader set of developer tools, include Adjust, AppsFlyer, MoEngage, Localytics, and CleverTap. And their clients include T-Mobile US, Spotify Technology and Yelp (and Bloomberg LP, which owns Bloomberg Businessweek, uses Localytics.) Critical sources say there is a new reason to try to reclaim online privacy and limit opportunities companies on the use of personal data of users. “Most tech companies don't offer users granular privacy settings, if they do,” says Jeremy Gillula, director of technology policy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a privacy advocate.
However, some companies say that such tracking tools aim to find out how users react to app updates and other changes. Jude McColgan, chief executive officer of Boston-based Localytics, says he has never seen the technology used to bombard former app users with ads. Eren Madge, Vice President of Marketing and Sales MoEngage Inc. in San Francisco, says it is up to the developer to opt out of such actions. “There is a dialogue between our customers and their end users,” he says. “And if they deceive users' trust, it won't end well for them.” Adjust, AppsFlyer and CleverTap did not respond to requests for comment, as did T-Mobile, Spotify and Yelp.
Application uninstallation trackers use in their work a key element of operating systems from Apple and Google, push notifications. Developers always have the opportunity to use so-called hidden push notifications to track installed applications on a regular basis without the user's knowledge – for example, to update the contents of the mailbox or social media feed while the application is running in the background. But if the application does not contact the developer, it is marked as deleted, and the application removal tracking tools make these changes to the file associated with the unique advertising identifier of a specific mobile device (this is what allows you to identify the person holding the device and offer him applications where whatever it is).
Such tools violate Apple and Google's policy on hidden push notifications in order to create audiences for advertising, says Alex Austin, CEO of Branch Metrics Inc., which makes software for developers but deliberately refuses to create trackers. uninstall applications. “In general, it's easy to track people online after they've decided to stop using your product.” He adds that he expects Apple and Google to end this practice. However, Google refused to comment on the situation Apple.
'When used for good, app uninstall trackers can help fix bugs or improve apps in some other way, but without the need to grab the user's attention with polls or other less convenient means. But the potential for abuse outside the system illustrates how interconnected everything is on the Internet today, says Gillula. – To be part of the system, users usually agree to share their data free of charge and possibly indefinitely, without knowing exactly how it might be used. As an app developer, I would prefer to know how many users have abandoned my product, 'he says, adding that as an app developer, he doesn't think he has the right to know who installed or uninstalled the app.