A Simple Way to Make It Harder for Mobile Ads to Track You

from Wired

If you’re not careful, most of what you do online and in mobile apps will wind up fueling targeted advertising, all that data feeding into a composite profile of your likes, dislikes, and demographic information. But increasingly, even careful web users can’t avoid being swept up in the digital marketing dragnet. While it’s ridiculously difficult to get a handle on all this tracking, there is a simple step you can take right now to throw a tiny wrench in those industry-wide gears.

Both Android and iOS force apps to use a special “ad ID” for tracking smartphones, which gets linked to whatever data marketers collect from you. But the benefit of having a designated ad ID is that iOS and Android both allow you to reset it or zero it out. This means that with just a few taps on either platform, you can disrupt the profiles ad networks have collected about you, and keep them from growing any more, by turning on a feature in both Android and iOS that essentially sends out a dummy ID that’s all zeros. If you turn this on, you’ll stop the tracking that apps were coordinating through your ad ID.

More here.

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33 Comments

  1. It is pretty sad that if you want to own a cell phone, you have to sign away your rights of the government or any company tracking you. The worst thing about owning a Apple or Android device, is that you don’t even know who it is that is pinging your location and using it for their own use. The article goes over ways to limit ad tracking, but it is not overwhelmingly insuring. By getting a mobile device that has a GPS, it is best to just not think about the people that are tracking your location 24/7.
    Just the idea of having an “ad ID”, is pretty terrifying. All of your personal data is listed under an ID #, dehumanizing you even more. However, it is helpful to know that this serial number can reset or zeroed out, meaning that you can confuse ad networks ultimately limiting their abilities to track you. Android and Apple send out fake IDs to these apps and they won’t understand where the data is coming from.
    Not only is it Apple and Android that are tacking you, your own web browser is tracking everything that you do. Google collects data on various things, such as; the purchases you make, where you eat, where you live, and all of the other things that you search on google. However, you consented to do that. The problem lies with what Google is doing with that information and where it is ultimately ending up. Google is sharing and holding this information do make recommendations through advertisements based off of other things you have bought or been to. Obviously, Google stores your web history – where you’ve been on the internet. A scarier element of this is Location History, where you have been on specific dates and time of day. If your account is connected to YouTube, Gmail, or any other devices, it only means more data collection. YouTube has voice search, where the mic is always on collecting your microphone data. Ultimately, you have two options with all of your devices. Either you can 1) trust their privacy policy, or 2) stop using devices you don’t trust altogether. Unfortunately, that’s the only way to stop your privacies being breached, legally.

  2. Right when I was reading this article I reached for my phone and followed the helpful instructions to turn on my “Limit Ad Tracking” and zero out my ad data. This article put into perspective just how much data and tracking is put on our phones. Although I, and pretty much everyone else, has known for a while that our phones are being monitored and tracked, I did not know I was able to have some control in the matter.
    While anyone who has a smart phone is being tracked and monitored, companies are making millions on our constant usage. This is very exploitative, because they are taking advantage of users by tracking their searches and seeing what types of posts they have liked, or seemingly, even listened to what is being talked about and will shove an ad in your face. For example, last night I was talking to my mom about “Lululemon” and how their leggings are overpriced. I did not search, or like a photo, or anything of the sort on my phone pertaining to Lululemon. Low and behold, when I go on Instagram, an ad for Lululemon popped up on my feed. To me, that seems so creepy and invasive. It makes me wonder how exactly companies are using our data to shove ads in our faces, and how they are even legally able to use this data in such a way.
    I think being able to have some sort of control gives iOS and Android users a piece of mind, it sure gave me one. But I think that smartphone users should be able to have much more control than just being able to limit tracking and zero out. That is just the starting point for privacy rights that are given, and more rules and regulations need to be put forth here on out. While this is easier said than done, because ad and tracking companies have to make money somehow, I feel like for those who want to be more private and have their ID number deleted, should have the right to do so. It is almost like when a telemarketer calls your phone, people are able to ask to please have their names removed from the list and in theory should not be bothered anymore. People who regulate the internet, whether it be the government, cybersecurity groups, or the apps themselves, need to allow users to choose for themselves whether or not they want to be tracked.

  3. It is understandable why companies want more and more information on consumers. With all of the new technological advances happening everyday, it makes senses that marketing departments would want every advantage possible in order to better sell their product. The point of data collection is to tailor advertisements to consumers, however there are lines that can be crossed when it comes to privacy. Personally, it frustrates me when I see and ad for a product that I was maybe discussing earlier with a friend. It says to me that I have no more privacy when it comes to my interests and that companies can use my online activities to manipulate advertisements I see in order better convince me to purchase their product.

    I would much rather be shown advertisements for general products and then make decisions on brands or when to buy a product on my own. That is why I love this feature discussed in the article. To be able to at least limit ad-tracking provides peace of mind I previously thought I would not get from Apple. I understand that it is up to the consumer to be diligent in protecting their own privacy by blocking cameras and shutting off access to microphones, but having the ability to erase my “ad ID” really fosters a greater level of trust between consumers and phone companies.

  4. Having this extra level of privacy is one of the best additions to a smartphone that everyone will be able to appreciate. Obviously this is not a fool proof way to appear “off the grid” to major data collecting companies, but the idea of being able to stop most of it is great for users. Privacy is a big concern today with the electronics that can be monitored as we use them. For instance, if you have the application Instagram running in the background while you are searching for things on Google, they are able to see what you are doing and give you targeted ads. If you just looked up cell phone cases because you are interested in buying one, I am willing to bet if you logged on to instagram and would see advertisements for them there. This is a huge problem. By phone companies letting you slow this process down so as little information as possible is given away because you can clear your ID, users can have a little more privacy from other data collecting companies. You still will have zero privacy from the cell phone company that is giving you the option for this, but some privacy is better than none.

  5. With the age of technology came the internet, mobile phones, and everything that can be done on these platforms. Unfortunately, there is a huge issue with what information can be gathered through the internet and mobile apps now. It is very scary to think of the many different internet entities that have and can gather your personal information. They also can track you through many ways. After learning about all the different ways you can be tracked on the internet by google and other internet companies, I did not expect targeted advertising to be able to track you as well. I knew that they created profiles on you and collected data to show you ads that you may like, advertising profiles created on you do much more. Both android and apple make apps they put in their app stores use a special ad ID. First of all, this is news to me. I never knew that apps use ad IDs that have tracking abilities.
    Fortunately, on both IOs and Android you can reset the ID or even zero it out. This will stop disrupt the networks that collect data for the ad profiles. Apps won’t be able to track you as well through the ID, and the pool of information they have collected on you will stop increasing. Of course, not everyone is willing to fully wipe out the Ad information because they do enjoy seeing advertisements that pertain to their taste. I know I for sure don’t want to see advertisements about walking canes for the elderly; don’t need a cane and won’t need one for many years hopefully. So many people might think its ok to let ad IDS track them and their internet habits. My concern is how these IDS are like magnets floating in cyber space. All they do is attract more and more trackers because apps and websites do a horrible job of keeping this information exclusive to themselves. Many apps still use hardcoded IDs for their users as well which basically defeats the purpose of changeable IDs. I believe the government needs to take more steps in regulating the amount of information is shared and dispersed on the internet. The phrase “Once it is on the internet, it is there forever” will hold true forever, but the questions is how far your information goes. When I think of the internet and all the personal information people have on it, I think of a boat on river. Once the boat hits the water it moves all the way downstream and spreads everywhere.

  6. Before reading this article, I knew that there are tons of apps and other things on our cellular devices that do in fact track your location and other things. However, as one wants privacy with different activities, they do on their phone it can be seen as a distraction as well as a feeling of not having privacy. From my own personal viewpoint, I hate having ads on the different apps that I use daily and am attached too. It feels as if for every snapchat story one views there’s another ad for annoying Tik Toks or other sites. While they are annoying, I do in fact know how to limit my location being tracked or monitored as I feel that companies don’t need this information in their hands. The difference is that companies who use this information make a ton of money off our constant usage and apps like Snapchat are always used so it’s consistent that they make it their duty to feed off of it.
    When I go online, it seems like the internet always is a step ahead of what I want to view and knows how to get my attention. For example, when I was talking with my roommates about how I wanted a new Evgeny Kuznetsov jersey for the season, I went online to show them, but as soon as I opened Google chrome there in fact was an ad just for an Evgeny Kuznetsov jersey by NHL.com on the top right corner which was remarkable because it felt like a total breach of privacy. In my personal opinion, I feel as if my phone is a total legal bypass for these companies, but a bypass that is all for the worse. I feel as if there needs to be some sort of regulations that make something like this illegal because I feel as if I were to talk about something important, that some companies would listen in to what I have to say and know something about my life.
    I think that being in control on my iPhone is great because I can limit this sort of tracking to a minimal but there truly needs to be rules and regulations set in place in hope that we can all figure this out and be able to freely choose if we want to be heard by other companies.

  7. I think it is pretty scary that the internet remembers our history and forms Ad’s based on our search. One thing I did not know is that it is feeding into a profile of us. For Example, If I am on a website, it always seems to remember every piece of information from my name, address, and my phone number. What stands out to me is that, when I can google lookup a pair of shoes, add them to my cart without purchasing, my Instagram page always shows an ad of the same shoes. I always ask myself, why does this happen.

    I also did not know that you can turn off the ads entirely or even program the phone to cater to a specific set of ads that could be beneficial to you. I agree with Jackson’s statement above because we do not know who our privacy information are going to once we purchase the device. By having those tracker features, I think that other hackers can quickly get our private information as well.

  8. Essentially, certain websites and apps you use online will track your data and use things like your common searches to gear ads that pop up towards your interests. As stated in the article, even the most discrete users can still find themselves caught up in tracking and websites using their data to ‘help’ provide better ad selection. It was also mentioned that it’s extremely hard to try and control this online tracking, this tracking can apparently be shut off or “zeroed out” by a setting called “adID”, which is essentially the function that apps are forced to use when they collect data from you. Therefore, if you reset or zero your “adID” out consistently, then you’ll be able to dodge this tracking and have smooth searching, no biased ads. It’s as simple as going into your privacy settings and limiting ad tracking. This tracking doesn’t necesaarily prove to be dangerous for users though, so it may as well be left on, so the ads you get are relevant at least. But if we look at the bigger picture here, the issue behind all of this is that websites are using your data inputs to put what you want on the screen, thus keeping you on their websites longer, and more often. If you like what you see all the time, you’ll click on these ads, generating revenue for these websites, thus giving them what they want. So in a sense, this tracking can blindly be seen as beneficial to both parties, it allows websites to generate more revenue, and it allows users to see more of what they want. But all things are only good in moderation. Personally I noticed this tracking awhile ago on my own devices and at first it was a little concerning to me, but living through the tracking it seems pretty harmless, so long as you have self control. All in all, I don’t necessarily agree with these websites using people’s data input without their knowledge of it, as it can prove to be a slight breach of privacy, but as long as people are aware that this is happening, I believe it’s very beneficial and can make ads better for everyone.

  9. I found this article very interesting and informative because of the relevance it has on my everyday life. As an avid social media user, I find the advertisements on my feed is way too accurate for my liking. For example, I searched on Google to see how expensive New York Yankees postseason tickets would be for average seats. A few hours later, there was an advertisement for Yankees tickets on my Instagram feed. I have very mixed feelings on this subject because there are positives and negatives to how advertisers access this information and how they use it. The positives are that by tracking your information, I can be shown products or services that I am interested in or that I did not even know existed. Also, these advertisements are often on sale or are offered at a very fair price. The negative to data tracking is that it is impossible to know how much information is being taken from my devices and where all of this information is sent. There is a difference of using my search history to advertise baseball tickets and taking private information from my phone and having it spread throughout the world. There is definitely a firm line between what should be taken from my electronic devices and what should be private. For this reason, I used the steps in the article and turned on the “Limit Ad Tracking” setting and I reset my advertisement identifier. At the end of the day, I rather be safe than sorry when it comes to my personal information.
    From a company’s perspective, it makes sense why they would invest so much time and money in excavating information from people’s devices. From having access to a person’s interests and search history, marketing departments can create a specific marketing strategy for each person and give themselves the best chance to connect with possible and continual consumers. Also, using target advertising can save companies a good amount of money because they can pick and choose who to advertise their products to based on finding out if their interests suit their company. Thankfully, there has been regulation on data tracking in the past decade. Apple requiring advertisers to only use IDFA and Google mandating the use of AAID by advertisers is very important. Before these regulations were put in place, there was absolutely no privacy for consumers and advertisers had unlimited access to people’s information. Technology keeps innovating at an exponential pace and it is important for the government to keep updating privacy regulations in order for consumers to feel protected with their private information.

  10. Until this year, I was never actually sure how advertising worked. It was only when my boyfriend’s uncle told us what he did for a living that we truly understood the basics of this very intricate process. The basis of advertising is that there are people who work for companies that use cookies to track what people have searched in the past or where they are located. This information is collected and is being sold to companies who want to advertise in milli-seconds—basically real-time. This is why there is lag when you load a webpage because this process is occurring so fast, and then once the page completely loads the custom advertisements appear. But it is these same cookies that store the individual’s data onto the web browser, which could be used to track the individual by companies as well as hackers. But is there any way to possibly prevent such tracking from occurring?

    What the article stated was that Android and iOS have a built-in protection system that allows the systems to reset the ad ID to zero, which sends out a fake ID and prevents the tracking of data/cookies. This allows two things to occur through further setting changes, such as the full prevention of ads as well as the repeated resetting of the advertising ID. Just the thought of having something called an ad ID is worrisome because I never knew that we had such a thing. I knew that we had cookies and that we should delete that history constantly. But an ad ID is something that I never knew existed or was being used to track my information. Although Apple has one of the most secure systems, it doesn’t mean that it fully prevents information from being tracked on our phones or devices. When I get into my car now, my GPS on my iPhone gives me estimates to where it thinks I am going and how long that route will take based off data that it collects off me. I am not oblivious to my tracking through the devices that I own, but preventing them is something that I do not know. Although I am worried about having my information being collected and tracked by companies, as a device owner I believe that through the agreement that is signed in the beginning of the device activation process, we all agreed to this tracking, whether we like it or not. But what I do find helpful is the fact that there are some ways to be able to prevent or minimize the amount of tracking being done with our Id’s—since complete data tracking is impossible when advertising requires acquiring cookies and data on individuals. Additionally, the regulations now set to monitor our privacy through this data collection is a great benefit because it prevents a lot of hackings and use of our personal information that would have occurred otherwise.

    The same goes for Google. A majority of people use Google as a search engine, but Google stores a lot of information on us. Either from using Google maps or searching random things using the search engine, our information is being stored in some database. Even though systems and settings allow us to minimize the amount of data being stored from our daily activities, data will still be collected no matter what. And it is what these companies do with this information that is important for customer-company trust. If it is promised that specific companies use the data for specific reasons and the customer agrees to those terms, those companies should uphold those agreements. But what goes behind closed doors with our data is not known to us. I don’t know what the data on my commute to Seton Hall is being used for by Google and Apple. Which is why data collection is worrisome. If the government can use our information behind our backs for their own selfish reasons, what stops a company from doing the same? Suing a company will barley be successful especially when we all agreed to the terms and agreements at the beginning of the activation process for the laptops and phones. Nevertheless, even with my concerns and the different types of settings used to minimize data tracking, I believe that it will be a while before people get an adequate amount of control over their data. But at this current moment, our main goal should be getting the companies to be more open with what they do with the data and more upholding to their own terms and agreements. If we can’t get the control we need, we might as well get transparency and try to gain back these companies trust. But I am at least glad that we have some sort of prevention system and regulation laws to prevent the misuse of our data and personal information by these corporations and hackers.

  11. When reading this article, I felt as though I was reading about a topic that I had heard about many times before. However, unlike many articles discussing the topic of privacy, this article gave me the answers I was searching for. In the article “A Simple Way to Make It Harder for Mobile Ads to Track You,” the specifics of mobile advertisement tracking is discussed. The article discusses how ads track you. Basically, everything one does goes into a sort of profile. All of one’s likes on social media, websites they have visited, or even clothes that they have purchased online is compiled into a profile, and advertisements are directed towards these categories of things. However, there is an easy way that we can change this fate of advertisement. “This means that with just a few taps on either platform, you can disrupt the profiles ad networks have collected about you, and keep them from growing any more, by turning on a feature in both Android and iOS that essentially sends out a dummy ID that’s all zeros. If you turn this on, you’ll stop the tracking that apps were coordinating through your ad ID” (Newman 2). With a few easy steps, one can assist in the overwhelming privacy issues that our society has.

    I enjoyed reading this article very much so. In fact, right after viewing this article, I completed the few very simple steps it took to keep my privacy in place. I have definitely seen ads tailored to things that would be in my “profile.” For example, just this past week, I was researching products for a marketing class I am currently taking. After researching this product, I have been constantly getting advertisements for this product on social media and YouTube. This is just one example out of too many to count. This article was as exciting as it was informative, and I am very excited to see how this new privacy assists me in the lack of targeted ads.

  12. When it comes to privacy, I am always concerned with just how much data is being collected on me and how that data is then used by companies. Recently, it seems that there is no way to truly attain privacy with the way companies track and sell your data to third parties, sometimes without even giving you a proper warning. Or so I thought, as I never knew there was a way to actually limit the data that Google collects from my Android device. All throughout my time spent reading the wired.com article I was going step by step through everything they mentioned, making sure to clear out my history and limit how long Google can keep any of my data. I was very much surprised when I read that Google keeps track of the content in the emails you receive since its tracking your purchases and flights and other things of that nature to learn even more about what you are doing with their service. While there are rather convenient ways Google can help by doing this (I’ve had it happen more than once where Google has alerted me of a flight cancellation, so I was able to quickly call the airline and reschedule my flight rather than wait to find that out at the airport), it still is a breach of privacy to do so without properly alerting the customer.

    In the same sense, there are also doing this with advertising. It seems rather convenient on the surface for Google to be targeting ads to me that its algorithm thinks I would enjoy. This stops it from showing me ads that I have absolutely no interest in as most of the time the advertisements that I get are at least semi-related to my actual interests. I have clicked on several ads targeted at me through Google, and have even made several purchases because of these ads. But this surface-level look does not even begin to cover all of the ways that you are tracked. For instance, I didn’t know that some of these ads will track your location at all times. It’s rather worrisome to think about because if a malicious person got access to that data, myself and anyone else that it is following would be unsafe. So all in all, while it is concerning how much data is being tracked and how it is being used, I am very happy to know that there are ways to counteract this.

  13. As everyone above me has stated, it is common knowledge that apps and devices we use collect data on us so that they can market products to us that would interest us. Most people tend to settle on the “well, I do not care that much, it does not affect me” side of this issue. That is because the devices we use have become as important to us as our eyes, hands, feet, and brains honestly. Of course, using the blockers that this article mentions can limit the amount of data these apps can gather on the user, but is that really enough?

    When anyone first opens up an iPhone or Android box and turns on the phone, the user is directed to agree with a bunch of different contracts and terms and agreements. Without agreeing to these terms, the user cannot use the phone, rendering it pointless. So, everyone agrees. Without recognizing it, we are signing away our rights to our data. We go along our merry way using our wonderful new devices and fail to recognize that every single app we download has its own terms and conditions that we agree to as well without even reading them. Any blocker we later put on our phone is not going to erase those contracts that we agreed to when we opened the phone and downloaded all of those apps.

    What can we do about it? Of course we can put these blockers on our phones and hope for the best, but really our best option is to recognize that these devices are only devices and do not need to be a necessary part of our lives at all times. If we are to separate ourselves from our phones and to only use them for necessary functions, then we are giving less data to the companies that we want privacy from. Knowing that technology is only growing and that this most likely will not happen, then we need to prioritize what is most important to use: technology and the function of our devices, or our privacy?

  14. Like a majority of smartphone users, we all know how much Google, Apple and even Android track our phones and our data. I’m sure with a few easy Google searches, it’d be easy to figure out how to turn it off and give me some sense of privacy that these phones really don’t give to people. I can’t count the amount of times I searched for a certain product or even just spoke about it just to see it as an Instagram or Twitter ad. I’ll look up a certain product and the next thing I know, I’m seeing three or four ads for it on my phone.
    It’s probably not the best but I used to be fascinated with the ads my phone will give me, especially after talking about it. I remember right after my sister’s surgery, we were told a specific medication to pick up over the counter at a local pharmacy. My mom texted me the name but I never looked it up on the internet or checked to see if it was in stock anywhere. After successfully purchasing it, I realized while scrolling through Instagram that one of my sponsored ads were for the specific brand of medicine that I could buy at the exact store I did. It was after that when I realized just how invasive and creepy these companies are. I still didn’t make any attempts to turn off my data tracking and I would still see ads for products I recently looked up or talked about.
    This article at least gives some peace of mind for smartphone users. While it isn’t a foolproof way to stop this data collecting by companies, it allows people to feel a little more secure and hopefully stop getting these creepy ads on things you just spoke about with someone. I know the other day I was talking about getting a new Cubs sweatshirt over text and my computer browser gave me ads on the side of the screen for Fanatics and new Cubs gear. I’m curious to see what happens now that I’ve followed the steps in this article to hopefully protect my phone and my data a little more.

  15. When reading this article, I was mostly torn between thinking about mobile tracking from the companies’ perspective versus from my own perspective. From the companies’ perspective, it makes sense that they are using information and data based on what the consumers are looking for to try to advertise their own product and try to get more sales. However, as the customer, where do you draw the line in regarding to our privacy, and how much of our personal information do companies really get? It is quite a troublesome subject because it could be greatly beneficial and the exchange of money and goods can go much smoother through mobile advertising, but it worries some people because are online services tracking our every move? Just the other day I made a google search about a silver chain. I have never looked this up before but wanted to see where I could get one. Next thing you know, when I pulled up Instagram, there were two ads about chains. It was a little disturbing for me and personally drove me away from those companies who were trying to offer me their product.

    Immediately after reading this article, I followed the steps given to reset my online ID, and help limit the amount of information that websites receive from me. Personally, it is really scary to think about how much knowledge some of these companies have about me and the extent which it is shared among other groups. As a consumer, I will find the best possible product for the best possible price through research and past experiences. I do not need companies trying to figure out the best ads for me, and more often than not, some of these ads are from knock-off companies and I want nothing to do with them. It is going to be very tough going forward however, with the increases of technology how mobile advertising works, and I think there needs to be some regulations put into place to protect the consumer, but it will be very interesting to see where this problem will be in the next couple of years.

  16. One of the biggest things that really creeps me out about having smartphones is ad tracking. Whether I search up a company on the internet or look at an account on Instagram or Twitter, for example, I’m always reminded that I searched for them at some point by receiving an ad from them on an entirely different platform. What’s annoying is that I could be just searching up a company for a few seconds, and the next thing I know is that an ad pops up from them on platform I go on for the next several weeks. I’ve also had very weird experiences in which I am thinking about a specific company, for instance, and I have never searched them or seen their ad anywhere, but get an advertisement from them on my Instagram feed right after thinking about them. The scary thing is that these are just your everyday companies that are essentially able to track you. It really makes you wonder what large companies like Amazon and Google are capable as far as tracking if the company in which I order nutrition products from is constantly popping up on my Instagram feed as far as digital advertisements go. Better yet, how much tracking do our own government intelligence agencies do on us?
    In a way, it seems as if our privacy is constantly being violated. We’re receiving ads because those sending the ads may know what we’re doing, what are our interests, and what websites or social media accounts we accessed. According to an article by Forbes, 77% of people feel that tracking through digital advertising is an invasion of privacy in some way. Whenever you access a website, your information is out there through cookies. Anyone that has a solid form of knowledge on how to access the information the cookie contains can see what your name is and what you were searching for. It is all public information, and marketing agencies have the ability to take the data from the cookie and send you an ad of what you were just looking at.
    After reading this article, I will go into my phone settings and either limit my ad tracking or reset it. This would cycle through my ID, according to the article, and force trackers to gather new information on me. Before reading the article, I did not know that there was a way to prevent advertisers from using my information that they gathered on me. I think it is important that everyone should be notified that there is a way to essentially block advertisers from tracking you. Of course, this would never happen, since companies like to gather as much information as they possibly can on someone.

  17. There have been times where I will be talking about something or I will be researching a topic on my phone and suddenly, an advertisement regarding that will appear on my phone. For the longest time I thought it was just a coincidence. I later on learned that my phone was picking up on what I researched and was able to tailor advertisements to what they believed I would want to see. Apps on both android and apple use special ad ID. This basically means that it tracks phones and links you to whatever data marketers collect from you. This may seem like an invasion of privacy that you can not control. Many people feel uneasy with the knowing what they research on their personal devices is monitored and that data is being stored. The data is then converted into advertisements. Many believe what they research should remain hidden. Ad ID, however, gives you the opportunity to reset this function. Users are able to disrupt the network by turning off the tracking on their phones by going to their settings. This function is available to give the user control of what is taken from their phone.
    What I research on my phone should not be stored in data for a later reminder of what I researched. I would feel as thought people would have access to what I had researched. Some items that people research could be confidential such as medical, personal issues, or other instances where they would want it to be kept private. Large companies such as Google and Apple implemented systems that made advertisers follow requirements. Apple started requiring advertisers use only the IDFA and Google began mandating advertiser use of it AAID in 2014. These were small steps to improve trust with customers. Before this was implemented, advertisers were able to collect permanent device identifies like serial numbers and other permanent sequences such as wireless network MAC address. The trackers has permanently embedded itself into the users address that will give it free range to see what the user researches at all times. That has since changed to give the users more protection.
    As a user, I would want to know that I am being protected. A user has to not only worry about outside hackers accessing their information but also those who have access due to the apple or android. It is important to make it clear the users have protection in order for them to invest in ones product

  18. Online advertisers are catering to your needs and wants basing on what you have been searching for on Google and online stores. This statement may seem harmless at first since more and more businesses are leaning toward offering the most personalized products and services that suit the needs of each consumer. However, predictive ads, what advertisers show you on websites based on your online footprints, are more likely to be regarded as creepy and alarming for most Internet device users these days. This is because of countless examples where users have reported seeing ads for a service or products popping up on every website after one two-minutes-search or, sometimes, even before the search. Indeed, this phenomenon is somewhat old news but the fact that there is almost little to no way to protect our personal data even up until now is quite worrying.

    It is great that Apple and Android have taken steps in providing protections for its users by providing Ad ID restriction options on their devices and mandating the usage of the IDFA and AAID with advertisers. Despite this, I think it is still quite unfortunate that not everyone knows about this while the fact that you are constantly monitored online is becoming more of common knowledge. Furthermore, as indicated by the article, Apple and Android have their limits and there is almost nothing stopping apps and ad networks to continue re-sharing ad IDs. The only other hope we have left is for more regulators to take action just like how Europe and California have legally recognized Ad IDs as personal data. But it may take a while for anything to happen as there is little pushback from the public and it has even been reported that Gen-Z is more willing to trade personal data for personalized experiences.

  19. I found this article to be very interesting and eye-opening. After reading this I’m going to now limit ad-tracking on my iPhone. While this does not entirely solve the problem it sure does help. As technology has quickly taken over our lives our privacy has been under attack. Simple searches across the internet are not followed by ads that target your search history. For some people who don’t care about their privacy this may be a good thing for them. Maybe these types of people like having things that they like being conveniently advertised to them. With that being said I am not one of those people, and chances are if you’re reading this you are not whether.
    I would like to believe that when I am in the comfort of my own home I am not being spied on. But unfortunately that is no longer the case. Data marketers have completely invaded the privacy of smartphone users. As this is a growing epidemic I am surprised that I haven’t seen any headline news about this recently. But maybe this means that as users we should just get used to it, and that there will not be any change in the near future. This could lead to a broader issue altogether. I read an article about a month ago that touched on how issues like this one can end up being a national security issue. These data marketers think what they’re doing is innocent, but what happens when it is done from an enemy of the United States. Instead of the victim being an average citizen, it is a military official. Now all of a sudden we have an issue of national security. That alone should be enough to ban these security breaches for all citizens. What happens when our information gets into the wrong hands? I suppose the one true way to combat this is to go off the grid completely. By this I mean to no longer use a smartphone, as well as no internet searches from a home computer. But how practical is that? As citizens of the United States we should feel free to search and go as we please on the internet without having our privacy invaded.
    Whatever happened to the days of consumer surveys to see what we as consumers like? Instead we are all subject to an unauthorized security breach for every search and click. I suppose at the end of the day they are just targeted ads. We can simply exit out of them or just ignore them. It’s really the principle of the whole thing that bothers me. Just look at the backlash that Facebook faced when it was discovered that they weren’t keeping their users personal information safe. That instance alone showed the world how much we value our personal information. Maybe since it’s our information we should be the ones receiving monetary compensation for it. Not these apps that invade our phone and distribute our information with little to no consent.

  20. I always had a theory that my phone listens to me because of all the ads that pop up it is because I say those things out loud. To find out that it is what I search that finds out what I like to be advertised. I believe there are a pro and con to mobile ads. The pro is that on a normal you will see an advertisement that you would like to see. A con is that we do not like people spying on us. I tried doing the instructions that this article said on an Android, but I did not seem to find any of the steps. I believe these are the step to an old updated version of either an iPhone or an Android. In my opinion, I never saw an option to limit mobile ads. We do not have the freedom in no part of our lives, especially for our phone. The government does track each and everyone for a purpose that is beneficial to them. The things we search for are not just for our viewing; it is also for the viewing of anyone who can see it. Social media tracks what we like or dislike, and what we do like it always pops up right when we log on the app This all starts from somewhere which is Google the motherload. Everyone google everything they truly desire; it could be from the simplest questions or comments to one of the hardest ones.
    From that Google will then collect that information and use it for their benefit. If this was to work on my phone, this would be one of the starting points of having my privacy. But I am stuck where I was five minutes before reading this article. I will investigate finding different features on my phone that will not allow mobile ads. Not everything we do can be private, the government is watching us.

  21. With all the huge emphasis companies put on advertising it only makes sense that they are tracking the data of what people do online. This is for many reasons such as marketing to the appropriate demographics, the reduction in overhead costs, and targeted advertisements to potential customers. All these reasons have created the targeted internet advertisements we see today. But Android and iOS have given users the ability to disrupt and even stop companies from being able to track you online. According to wired.com to block advertisement data collection for “Android, go to Settings > Privacy > Advanced > Ads and toggle on Opt out of Ads Personalization. On iOS, navigate to Settings > Privacy > Advertising and toggle on Limit Ad Tracking.” This give their users the options to not only block advertisements which are targeted from your online activity, but the ability to start fresh and see new advertisements for things you might like if you so desire. With the emergence of big data and AI companies have been able to sort the data that is collected on users and narrow it down to useful actionable information. This leads me to question whether this level of snooping into a person’s search history constitutes as an invasion of privacy.

  22. I for one think it is unethical to use personal devices to spy on people, however I understand the fear associated with not spying on people. The world we live in is dangerous, it was dangerous before technology, it’s even more dangerous with technology, and will become more dangerous as technology advances. With this in mind we have to understand that you cannot have both 100% freedom and 100% security, it is a give and take. However, the main purpose of the ad tracker is to control what ads you see in order for you to click on them in hopes of you buying something, it’s all about the money. Companies want the most information on their consumers as possible, because the more you know about how someone thinks and acts, the better you are at controlling them. Now, if you wish for this not to be the case, this article is helpful in making sure you know how to prevent ad trackers. However, it will not stop the device from listening to your conversation if need be.

  23. Prior to reading this article, I had no idea that I could adjust my IOS settings to “turn off” ad tracking. Not only this, but I also did not know how Android and IOS apps obtained my personal information in order to target specific advertisements at me. Now that I know my smartphone’s ad ID that is linked to whatever data marketers collect from me, I feel much more informed. My opinion on data collection through our phones software for marketing purposes probably falls in the minority- I enjoy specific advertisement geared towards my current interests/searches. For example, I have recently been looking into the annual Great Gatsby themed party in New York City- googling it, looking at their social media pages, and talking about it with friends. Now I understand that because I have not adjusted the ad ID settings on my smartphone, I have received a greater volume of advertisements about the party. In this, one thing that I have always pondered, and the article does not address, is whether or not our phones are constantly listening to us…Everybody I know has a story where they are having a conversation with another person and then later that day see an advertisement on their device relating to what they were previously discussing. After doing some research I have discovered that it is not our phones that are constantly listening to us (for that to happen, we have to say “hey siri or “okay google”). In the absence of these trigger words “any data you provide is only processed within your own phone”. So how are our conversation turned into advertisements? Third party applications are the culprits for listening in on our personal conversations- social media companies like Facebook and Instagram (which makes sense because these companies are where we mainly see the advertisements). Apparently third party apps have their own trigger words which are embedded in their software, however nobody knows what the words are. What we do know is that the trigger words are simple, because “an ordinary conversation with a friend about needing a new pair of jeans could be enough to activate it”. Of course Facebook denies listening to its’ users personal conversations, however, there is no federal law against it- so why wouldn’t they listen for marketing purposes? Ultimately, this whole topic comes full circle with the fact that yes- there are ad ID’s that can be self monitored (to a certain extent) as well as third party listeners. Users of devices should be better informed on ad ID’s, how to self monitor their ads, and there should be greater transparency on who is really listening to our everyday conversations.
    https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/wjbzzy/your-phone-is-listening-and-its-not-paranoia

  24. In today’s world, it is difficult to go a single day without using technology, especially as a student. From cellphones, laptops, and other forms of technology, it seems everything we do is constantly being watched over by giant tech companies like Apple and Google and this data is then sold to advertising companies for target ads. I’ve had plenty of instances of searching for some product, like a pair of Nike shoes on the internet using my laptop and then seeing ads for this same product pop up on my Instagram feed. As helpful as it may be, it comes at the cost of our privacy. Although targeted advertisement like this makes life as a consumer easier, whether or not it is completely fine knowing that these companies have all this data about everything that I have ever searched for, viewed, and liked online is a big question. This article however does make me feel safer knowing I can reset some of this data to stop companies from receiving it. This has been a problem that I have been worried about long before this article and I am glad that I learned about it, and I am going to follow the instructions and reset my phone’s “changeable ID” the moment I finish typing this article. However, this article is not the perfect solution to the Privacy issue at hand. There is still plenty of permanent data from certain apps that I can not delete with just this simple trick.

    Similarly, Google has policies in their Terms and Service that allow them the authority to be able to read everyone’s emails and documents on Gmail and Google Drive. As handy as the Google Auto-Generated replies are for emails, it means that some AI created by Google has read my email and created its own response to it, probably storing my data along the way. Similar things happen must happen with Google Drive that are as invasive, if not worse. I have heard of a solution to this problem too, a science teacher I had in high school told me about proton mail, an email service made by scientists that had the same worry I had about Google reading our emails and promises to keep all of our documents on it private, the DuckDuckGo of emails if as some may describe it.

  25. Ad’s, they have stood up against the test of time as one of the premier marketing tools for products; in the past couple of decades, as society has shifted to the internet, ads have, in turn, have followed suit. Nowadays, one can’t even click on a website without getting about 10-15 ads for something and sometimes so many ads that it makes the website unusable. Just as the internet grew more capable, so did the ads placed on it to the point that if you even talk about or look up a specific type of product the next dozen times that you go on the internet, you will receive hundreds of ads for said item. The article put out by wired magazine titled A Simple Way to Make It Harder for Mobile Ads to Track You talks about a way not to remove these ads to make it harder for the company’s behind them too creepily track people. According to the article “Both Android and iOS force apps to use a special “ad ID” for tracking smartphones, which gets linked to whatever data marketers collect from you. But the benefit of having a designated ad ID is that iOS and Android both allow you to reset it or zero it out… If you turn this on, you’ll stop the tracking that apps were coordinating through your ad ID”. Resetting your ad ID and turning on limited ad tracking also isn’t something new either, according to the article. Apple and Android both made requirements that companies advertise in such a way that users of their devices can have the ability to turn this on and protect themselves from ad tracking. By resetting your ad ID, it takes away the ad information giving back a tiny bit of privacy, which in this current internet age is strikingly hard to find. With this, it is also something that doesn’t have to be done over and over again because by merely turning on limit ad tracking in your phone settings, it will take care of the problem, and all the creepy ad tracking can be an afterthought. By turning this on and then getting an ad-blocking software, it will take away all the annoying ad’s on websites as long with making it so that these marketing companies can’t track you so easily. Once again, this is something that I had entirely not thought of until I read this article because so often it would annoy me with how I would look something up to learn about it and then shortly after I would proceed to be bombarded by ad’s for the item. I plan to use this feature talked about in the article so that I no longer have to deal with the creepiness of these marketing companies and can feel as if I have a little more sense of privacy when I go on the internet.

  26. We truly do not realize just how much companies are tracking us and our information. And, in a world where we must use our technologies to excel and be better versions of our selves, it is unavoidable that we may fall prey to many of these companies’ schemes. Whether it’d be targeted advertisement tracking on social media, to some sort of google application or Facebook tracking your location data and using it to build a profile on you, our applications are definitely tracking some type of information from us. The question is, how do you know exactly what is being tracked, and are you eligible to opt out of it? Well, that depends on the application or service. For many applications, they don’t directly tell you what information is being tracked, and you must do your own research to find our exactly what information is being collected. For the other case, many apps will not function if they aren’t able to collect some type of information from you. Many times, it will be disclosed in some agreement that you MUST agree to before using the application.

    But to be completely honest, I’m not opposed to all forms of online tracking. For instance, many of my (and probably yours) favorite websites and applications use collected information to earn their revenue. For example, a popular online chatting service, Discord, collects background data including the types of applications and games you open on your computer. However, the application is also free and provides excellent service. I’m not too concerned with them knowing what apps and games I open, therefore I can personally justify using the service. The issue that remains, is that there is a boundary I’d prefer they not cross. And as it stands, many of these application don’t tell you directly that they are collecting your information in the first place. Therefore, we must be wary of the services we use.

  27. Most if not all the websites and mobile apps that we use today store information on its users and consumers. They then take this information, such as our “likes” and “dislikes” and locations, and sell it to other websites and mobile apps. Those companies then take that information to distribute ads directly to the user that match with their likes and dislikes, also known as targeted advertising. Though some may find targeted advertising to be unsettling, I personally do not have a problem with it. I actually believe that it is a smart idea, although the ways of going about it do not seem to be completely on the money.
    The reason I personally enjoy target advertising is because it allows me to see ads of products/services that I may genuinely be interested in based on my past actions. For example, I am way more likely to be bombarded with ads from Best Buy and Amazon rather than Victoria Secret or Forever 21, two places which I do not shop at. A negative side to this however is that it limits my ad viewing to the companies that can afford to buy my “history” and promote themselves. Smaller businesses/websites will not be able to advertise to me due to competition although they match my interests.
    One aspect of collecting my information that does unsettle me is the tracking of my current physical location. Some apps and websites know where I am at all times; and although I know this information will not be used in a malicious way, if someone else were to get a hold of this information then it can quickly become an issue. This makes me very hesitant to give apps permission to view my location.

  28. One of the oddest things is looking up something on the internet then hours later seeing advertisements promoting the same product you were just looking at. We realize how weird this feeling is, but many people really don’t understand how it happens. In the article, A Simple Way to Make It Harder for Mobile Ads to Track You, published on wired.com, we learn how to dodge these odd ads that popup on our phones.
    The article gives us different options to choose from when blocking these ads. They mention you can either stop the ad tracking, limit the ad tracking, or not do anything at all. But they specifically mention, “If you don’t want to stop ad tracking altogether—you’re getting ads anyway, might as well be relevant,” which is a great look on the idea. If the ads are things that you are interested in, there is no need to block it all together.
    The process of limiting ad tracking or blocking ad tracking is a way easier process than I had first imagined. To limit ad tracking on an IOS device, you would need to, “navigate to Settings > Privacy > Advertising and toggle on Limit Ad Tracking,” and for blocking ad tracking, “you can navigate to those same screens and tap Reset advertising ID on Android or Reset Advertising Identifier on iOS to cycle your ad ID and essentially force advertisers to start a new profile on you.”
    Both of these processes seem to take no more than 5 minutes. It is almost as easy as clearing a browser search history. But instead of browser history, you could call it “ad history.” In my opinion, the world would still not jump to do it because the task sounds too hard without looking at the steps. It is almost like the “System Software Update Available” notification that you get on your phone when its time for a new update. You know that it is there but many people like me, do not jump to complete the easy task.
    I found it quite pleasing how the eerie feeling I get from seeing ads of things I looked at hours before popping up on my phone could be fixed within a matter of minutes. Also, a great realization this article made me come to is that today, these ads are honestly inevitable, so id rather get ads from things I am interested in than some other random ads I don’t care about.

  29. Companies are using every advantage they can get to obtain information about consumers. Although we do know that some companies gain information from simple data such as a birthday or email, companies are now digging further to acquire the information they need to succeed. They are tracking our “ad ID”. Electronic devices now have a special code to distinguish every person and device to a number. All the websites and roaming you do through a device, is put onto an “ad ID” Companies then use this to gather information to help them strategically target consumers with ads the would interest them the most. Although some find use in seeing relevant ads while roaming on their device, others find this a breach of privacy. I know I am not comfortable having my information taken and used by other large corporations for their personal use to grow as a company. It also puts into thought how capable these large companies are such as YouTube or Instagram. This article also goes into depth how to prevent, or at least try, and limit how you are being tracked through resetting your “ad ID”. In the article it states, “To do it on Android, go to Settings > Privacy > Advanced > Ads and toggle on Opt out of Ads Personalization. On iOS, navigate to Settings > Privacy > Advertising and toggle on Limit Ad Tracking” (Newman).

    With so many users obtaining devices and having a coded ID, there has been effort from other software companies to try to bypass this limited ID access. They go around the road-block set up, for example, by Google and target straight into users information that cannot be stopped from resetting or blocking access in any way. In an article called Thousands of Android apps bypass Advertising ID to track users the author John E Dunn states, “New research by AppCensus has found that 18,000 Play Store apps, many with hundreds of millions of installs, appear to be sidestepping the Advertising ID system by quietly collecting additional identifiers from users’ smartphones in ways that can’t be blocked or reset.” With so many apps creeping in the appstore to take out information, there could be an app on your phone right now collecting all sorts of data from users. Do you think companies have more information about you that they are not telling you?

  30. This article is extremely relevant today and I believe that more people should know about the simple steps to make it harder for tracking. If you have access to any type of electronical device, you can be tracked. Your phone not only collects data on what you’re looking up online, but it listens to you. Your computer does the same thing. And your Alexa is the most unsuspected because it’s not like a phone or computer that we have right in front of us, where we are conscious of our searches. In my house, we have Alexa’s almost in every room, and we almost forget they’re even there. We have all sorts of different conversations about anywhere from politics to food, and it is constantly taking in all this information. For example, one morning my mom was listing, aloud, a bunch of different ideas to have for dinner that night. About two hours later, she points out to the Alexa, which was not being used at the time, and it has a suggestion for “Chicken Stir Dinner Recipe.” Not that we were shocked, because it happens every day, but it was surreal to see that we were just talking about having that for dinner and Alexa was listening. This happens to my friends and I every day, where we will be talking about something, for example a pair of shoes, and as soon as we go on our phones we see a picture or an ad of the shoe. It is honestly very scary and I don’t like how my personal information is tracked and used for data.

    I was very surprised to learn that “iOS and Android both allow you to reset [the designated ad iD] or zero it out. This means that with just a few taps on either platform, you can disrupt the profiles ad networks have collected about you, and keep them from growing any more, by turning on a feature in both Android and iOS that essentially sends out a dummy ID that’s all zeros.” Even with this rebooting, it is still not a complete solution. An individual would have to get rid of all technology and basically fall of the face of the earth, to stop being tracked. Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity adviser and research associate at Oxford University’s Center for Technology and Global Affairs states “resettable IDs are not a comprehensive solution. They aim to give the user some control, but often they only offer the perception of control. For the system to work, apps and ad networks need to honor the agreements about only collecting ad IDs and not re-sharing them. And if the agreements aren’t fully enforced, apps and ad networks may be tracking users through other means.” And CEO of the digital publishing trade organization Digital Content Next, Jason Kint, explains that “ultimately users expect to be able to tell any and all companies not to track them when they’re not intentionally choosing to interact with them. Industry needs to catch up to consumer expectations.” This is all agreeable information because the consumer only can do some much to hide or reset his or her searches or personal information, but it is up to the industry to change and only collect the data needed.

  31. Mostly everything you do online is tracked and that results in many ads targeting your most recent searches and activity. However, there are some ways to prevent this starting with using a private browser or a search engine that does not share your information to these companies. I find it very effective that android and IOS force apps to use a special ‘ad ID’ for tracking smartphones. This may be viewed as a bad thing because it is linked to all of your stored information, but Android and IOS give you the opportunity to reset this information. Online ads are at an all time high and tracking technologies like web cookies are collecting information about our browsing activities from site to site to produce these ads. Social Media influencers do this to benefit themselves by making a sale and they try to benefit the consumer as well because they track items you were interested in, or almost bought, and flood your websites with these items so it influences you into completing the purchase. These targeted ads have proven to be better than commercials because it is a form of direct marketing. There is a whole other business of marketing that we as internet users don’t quite realize. I believe that this way of marketing is a positive tool because instead of commercials that you can rarely relate to, you are being targeted with advertisements that you may be interested in. But some people find these ads to be a negative thing and scares them away because they don’t like the idea of their interests being monitored. This article gives good insight that it is effective to clear your cookies and internet browser every once in awhile to maximum your online search privacy or getting an alternative ad blocker to ensure that your information doesn’t get leaked. It is a good idea to also block these interest based ads that pop up so there is less of a chance that they send you a tempting item. Although these ads have brought up a big issue, search engines and apps have also added settings and options to opt out of these ‘ads based on your interest’ and block your history from these marketing companies.

  32. Anytime you use your phone, order online, scan items in the store, talk about products while your phone is around, your phone is listening. It is a pretty sad occurrence to know that if you speak about Windex, an ad about Windex will appear on your social media or while you are searching the web within days. It can become quickly frightening when you really have no privacy even on your cell phone. Some people can become very angered by this when they are constantly getting ads from things they speak about moments before and can be scared by this occurring so often. This article details a feature that lets you change that. Both Android and IOS have a feature built-in that tracks your web searches, or what you are looking up on Amazon to possibly make a purchase. By just a few taps you can disrupt the feature which stops the ID and the tracking on your phone. By limiting Ad tracking you are disrupting the ability for companies to have a customer profile on you, therefore not giving them the information they want. As a person in the field of Marketing, I know the importance of advertising and sampling, but there can be other ways to do so rather than using trackers on cell phones. As a consumer, I see the importance of keeping the privacy of customers in mind at all times. Most of the time, people do not want their names being used for samples of questionnaires so it’s only true that they would not want to be tracked by their purchases or web searches. The popular retail store Target offers a popular app that uses a feature previously known as Cartwheel. This feature lets you scan items in the store to see any discounts or coupons right on your phone, then combines them all into one barcode that would be scanned at the end of the purchase. This feature was important for them because it used the scans as surveys for what consumers bought most of, or what consumers specifically are in need of and gave each customer a profile. This feature is very much like the one built into the cell phone in which it offers Target an easy way to track purchases and base their inventory on what people are buying most of. Some people, when they realized what the feature was about, refused to use it due to the breach of privacy which is important for consumers. When you have a cell phone, you want your personal information kept private and that is one of the reasons so many people refrain from having any app or feature on their phone that tracks that. This article outlines that the ID is to identify likes, dislikes, and demographics of consumers and even if you are careful, you can still be swept into the digital marketing feature. In Marketing and advertising it is important to get customer reaction and interpretation but using other features could be more beneficial than cell phone ID tracking.

  33. I find it incredible that I could be talking to my parents about one thing and then later that day I see an ad for it when scrolling through Instagram. How did they know? I recently realized that what I google one morning will probably show up in an advertisement when I google something at night. Even Instagram started showing advertisements in my feed lately – I did not even realize they started doing that. I tried going into my settings like the article said so I can limit my ad-tracking, however, it was blurred out. I cannot turn it on or off. It makes me question why it was put there in the first place if I am unable to use it. I would assume it is so companies can say they made the consumers aware of ad tracking, however without actually letting the consumers do anything about it. Let’s say it was not blurred out on my phone. I am not crazy about the idea of “zeroing it out” so the companies have to start fresh on what advertisements show up on my devices. They still have access to personal searches of mine. I should not be worried that someone is tracking me when I google where I can find the closest supermarket, for example.

    I think it is great the Google and Apple have created mandates on what ad services can track but in my opinion, there no way to be sure these companies can be aware of every ad service there is in the internet world. There are many location/ advertisement settings on our phones that have no business being turned on. For example, why does the app store or Venmo need to know my location? Is Apple restricting what Venmo can see on my phone?

    Something similar that I became aware of recently was certain websites tracking your location. I have seen many videos that this is what human traffickers use to track people’s locations. For example, I and a lot of my female friends have been receiving text messages first addressing us by name then stating an old package of ours that was not delivered is able to be tracked at the following link. I have no idea how they got my phone number or my name. I block them every time then delete the messages. It is so scary to me especially because last week I had to get a new phone and within the day I received two of those messages. Who are these people ad how do they work so quickly? It is petrifying that women cannot even open webpages in today’s society without the fear of being trafficked.

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