Hey, Apple! Get Off My Tail!

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 28: The new iPhone 5 is launched on September 27, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. Telecom, w
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 28: The new iPhone 5 is launched on September 27, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. Telecom, with help of rugby great Jonah Lomu, launched the much-anticipated Apple iPhone 5 last night in Auckland. Jonah was joined by Opshop frontman and New Zealand's Got Talent judge, Jason Kerrison in Wellington via live feed between the two cities. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch stores opened their doors at 12.01am to eager customers, some waiting since 8am the previous morning. Customers were offered a 'luxury' cueing experience at the Victoria Street West store, with the iPhone officially available for sale at 12:01am. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images for Telecom)

My pal Dave from IT comes into my office yesterday, which was unusual in the sense that I didn't have an incident to write up, nothing had crashed, I didn't anticipate his entrance, it was totally unexpected, and this made me nervous. IT comes when called. IT speaks when it is spoken to. It does not initiate action. Yet here was Dave and I could tell there was something on his mind.

"Dave!" I said. "What's on your mind."

"Did you know," said Dave, standing in my doorway because IT guys are like vampires in the sense that in order for them to pass through your doorway you have to invite them in, "that one of the features of Apple's new OS6 is that when you go online on your iPhone or your iPad it knows where you are?"

"That's interesting," I said, feeling vaguely queasy.

"Yes," said Dave. "And not only does it know where you are, it can also get information on what you're doing on your iPhone or your iPad and then target advertising right to you?"

"No," I said. I thought about the time not long ago when I was messaging my friend Barringer. "Dude," I had said. "Whassup." Shortly thereafter, I got an ad on my phone for surfboard wax. Perhaps all people who use the word "Dude" get an ad pertaining to surfing?

"Would you like me to disable that feature?" said Dave. I was very impressed and moved. Here was Dave whose job did not include caring about my integrity as a human being who doesn't wish to be inadvertently targeted going out of his way to keep my private thoughts and activities from the grasp of Apple.

"Come in, Dave," I said.

For those who would like to disable this obnoxious feature, here's how:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to About
  • Scroll all the way down to Advertising
  • Turn Limit Ad Tracking on

That's it. That's all it takes. The insidious part of this is how you are automatically targeted if you don't know about this well-hidden option, and that in order to avoid having your data mined you have to make an active choice to do so. Think about that. In the normal run of things, you might think that it would be polite of Apple to ask you whether you'd like to turn on the Ad Tracking feature... but no. Your passive or ignorant acceptance is enough to get all your keystrokes pumped up to the Core of the Hive without your knowledge or active agreement.

It's just the beginning, guys. Every breath you take. Every move you make. Every bond you break, every step you take, they'll be watching you. Unless you find the well-hidden option, that is. So start looking. Or call IT. I'm sure that somewhere in your universe there's a guy like Dave.

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