After this information is gathered, it can be sent to other companies, usually ad firms for which the information about your habits, age and gender are vitally important. Of course, we all know that Apple enforces strict app reviewing policies, but it seems that a few developers have found ways to bypass them.
Google counterparts. Among the apps mentioned in this investigation is the popular music app Pandora, available for both iOS and Android, that is reportedly sending age, gender, location and phone identifiers to ad companies. Of all apps sending your personal information to third parties that were named in this report, the leader is the iPhone app TextPlus 4, which provides your phone's ID number to no less than eight ad networks, while info about your gender, age and ZIP code is send to two of these ad companies.
It seems that most valuable for these online-tracking companies is the so-called "phone ID", known as the UDID (Unique Device Identifier) for the iPhone, which is set by the manufacturer and usually can't be blocked. Meghan O'Holleran who is working for internet ad network Traffic Marketplace says on the topic:
"The great thing about mobile is you can't clear a UDID like you can a cookie. That's how we track everything. We watch what apps you download, how frequently you use them, how much time you spend on them, how deep into the app you go."
She points, however, that this data is not linked to an individual.
In all honesty, these revelations are not particularly shocking. Most of us are perfectly aware that ad companies track our personal data, particularly through free apps, and very little can be done about this. After all, we live in times when there are cameras around every corner and the police has extra rights, so this is nothing new under the sun, which may be a sad fact for some, but it's a fact nevertheless.