You can now opt-out of Ad Tracking on the Amazon Fire TV

advertiser-id-options-fire-tv

The 5.2.1.1 software update for Fire TV devices introduces a new option that allows users to opt-out of ad tracking within apps. The option can be found in a new Advertising ID menu under the System area of the Fire TV’s settings section. A setting called “Interest-based Ads” is turned on by default. If left on, Fire OS will provide an advertiser ID value, which is unique to each device, to any app that requests it. This allows advertising networks, which display ads within apps, to track a single device/user across multiple apps. There is also an option to reset your device’s unique advertising ID number.

advertiser-id-menu

Back in the early days of Android, advertisers quickly realized that each Android device had a unique Android ID number. If apps read the Android ID number and passed it along to advertisers, the advertisers could track a single device across multiple apps. This allowed advertisers to create a profile for each device based on the apps that were being used.

The main issue with this was that there was no way for users to reset or hide their Android ID, so there was no way to opt-out of this type of tracking. It was essentially a permanent tracking beacon that could not be adjusted by the device owner. To address this concern, Google added an Advertising ID option into Android. Instead of allowing apps to read the device’s Android ID, which never changes, apps could now only read the device’s Advertising ID. By allowing users the option to reset their Advertising ID number, or disable it entirely, it gave users a way to opt-out of ad tracking within apps.

advertiser-id-option

The new Fire OS option being added to Fire TV devices allows Fire TV owners the same kind of control over ad tracking within apps. This likely will not affect ads you see within the Fire TV interface, since presumably those ads are using your Amazon account as a tracking identifier, but it will affect ads within third-party apps.

advertiser-id-reset

If you don’t like the idea of one app affecting the ads you see within another app, then you can turn the new “Interest-based Ads” option off. It may seem like a no brainer to turn this feature off, but understand that the people negatively affected the most by turning off ad tracking are likely the developers of the apps that you use. Turning off ad tracking results in less interesting and less relevant ads. This reduces the ad revenue going to developers of the apps you use. I personally keep options like this turned on because it gives developers a little bit more revenue, and I’m all for helping developers of apps I use. Besides, if I have to see ads, I rather they be somewhat interesting to me personally, instead of just random noise.

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2 comments
  1. Masterblaster says:

    If only Amazon would patch the security vulnerabilitis found within the old OS. Like the very old exploit from sideloading apks plus they don’t follow the monthly security updates from Google.

  2. D. David Taylor II Esq. says:

    Also, on my 1st generation FireTV Stick Amazon turns back on the Interest Based Ads opt-in whenever I restart the FireTV Stick. I do not use 3rd party apps aside from Netflix, Hulu and the default YouTube web-based ‘shortcut’ so I have no concerns for developer revenue as I subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video/Music, Hulu and YouTube Red. However, when I turn off (opt out) the ‘targeted, interest based advertising’ to limit the information collected, sold and used by Amazon and other 3rd parties it reverts to ON whenever the FireTV Stick is RESTARTED, not reset. If Amazon offers the ability to ‘opt out’ of the ‘targeted, interest based ads’, why not remember the last known state, leaving it alone. Instead, Amazon RESTORES the invasive tracking and data collection ‘feature’ you consciously and deliberately turned off.

    While I like the FireTV Stick very much and recently ordered the latest generation of the hardware, I dislike immensely the default action of the Fire OS to restore security/privacy setting to ON whenever you simply restart the FireTV Stick.

    What good is the option to opt-out of something only to repeat the opt-out process every time you restart the device? If Amazon is reading this or if there is a way to permanently disable the ‘interest based advertising’ that I am missing, please let me know. For Amazon, please leave the users privacy and security settings alone. Please do not offer the option to turn off ‘features’ only to restore them to the companies ‘default’ values, in complete opposition to what the user willingly and deliberately disabled.

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