Swiss programmer Frederic Jacobs on Sunday tweeted that iOS 8 will randomize a device’s MAC address while scanning for available Wi-Fi networks, thus preventing marketers from tracking users.
iOS 8 randomises the MAC address while scanning for WiFi networks. Hoping that this becomes an industry standard.pic.twitter.com/oGsZMtydUo
— Frederic Jacobs (@FredericJacobs) June 8, 2014
iLounge notes that companies are currently able to use device-specific MAC addresses to track the location of devices — for instance, MAC addresses allow retailers to recognize if a customer has been in the store before, though further personal information is not disclosed. Although some reports have inferred that perhaps Apple would be preventing marketer from being able to track devices via their MAC address to put pressure on retailers to use iBeacon, a tweet from Jacobs this morning states that’s likely not the reasoning behind the move.
Saying that WiFi MAC addresses are randomised only to push iBeacon is wrong. Bluetooth LE uses random addresses too.https://t.co/ItJQxFq97j
— Frederic Jacobs (@FredericJacobs) June 9, 2014
While current methods to track users via their device’s MAC address don’t expose any personal data, Apple’s moves is another step in the right direction to protect their users’ personal information.