What Half of iPhone Users Don’t Know About Their Privacy: New Poll

By Ashley Boyd | November 6, 2019 | Advocacy

A new Mozilla-Ipsos poll reveals that a majority of iPhone users treasure privacy — but aren’t aware of the device's ad tracking

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When shopping for a smartphone, a majority of iPhone users (61%) say default privacy settings are a significant factor in their decision. It’s hardly a surprise — much of Apple’s recent marketing has been around their commitment to privacy.

And yet half of iPhone users don’t know there’s a unique ID on their phone (called an IDFA, for “identifier for advertisers”) tracking their app activity and sending it to third-party advertisers by default.

This is according to a recent Mozilla-Ipsos poll, conducted in October 2019. We interviewed 1,007 residents online in English across the U.S. about their iPhone and Android smartphone preferences and their awareness of online privacy.

Some brief background: Mozilla first began thinking about the iPhone IDFA last April, when Apple debuted its “Privacy. That’s iPhone” marketing campaign. In many ways, Apple is a champion of privacy — but we thought the new slogan misrepresented exactly what goes on with iPhones and IDFAs. Indeed, the IDFA is a lot like a salesperson following you from store to store while you shop, recording everything you look at.

So Mozilla launched a petition urging Apple to automatically reset users’ IDFAs every month. (iPhone users can currently disable the IDFA, but have to do so manually; Android users aren’t even given this option.) Automatic resets would make it harder for companies to build profiles of users over time.

We hope today’s poll findings will increase pressure on Apple to make this move — and put pressure on Android providers to provide strong privacy features, too. Also among our findings:

  • A majority (61%) of iPhone users who are aware of IDFA don't know how to disable it

  • If given a choice, a majority (54%) of iPhone users would want the IDFA to reset automatically at regular (at least a few times per year) intervals

  • More than half of Americans (57%) — whether iPhone or Android users — are concerned that the apps they download and websites they visit on their smartphones are being tracked by third parties

We’re calling on Apple to live up to their reputation as privacy champions. In the meantime: Sign Mozilla’s petition, and learn how to turn off your iPhone’s IDFA.

Learn more about our poll here.