It wasn’t touted onstage, but a new iOS 8 feature is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy. As spotted by Frederic Jacobs, the changes have to do with the MAC address used to identify devices within networks. When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, they randomize that address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network.
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New technologies, which rely on the fact that most people carry a mobile device, now allow retailers to receive signals from devices that are in or near their stores. If your mobile device has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on, it broadcasts a unique number – called a MAC address – that can be logged by Wi-Fi equipment or Bluetooth sensors. A MAC address is simply a 12-character string of letters and numbers; it doesn’t contain personal information like your name, email address, or phone number.
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