iPhone Safari browser privacy and security - history, cookies, cache, and databases

iPhone browser privacy FAQ: How do I manage my iPhone browser privacy and security (my iPhone Safari browser privacy and security)?

Since the latest Facebook privacy fiasco (see stories like Facebook privacy facts, and Delete Facebook account Google search trend), I've been digging more and more into internet/web browser privacy and security, so last night when I picked up my iPhone and started Googling some search terms, the little voice in the back of my head said "iPhone browser privacy". Hmm, I thought, what is the deal with iPhone browser history, privacy, and cache control?

iPad/iPhone browser privacy - How to clear your iPhone Safari browser history, cookies, and cache

When it comes to iPhone browser privacy, there isn't any way to see the low-level details about the data that is currently stored (so you can't see all the advertisers who have stored cookies on your iPhone), but you can clear your iPhone Safari browser history, cookies, and cache easily. Here's how.

1) Tap the iPhone Settings icon

The iPhone Safari browser controls are under the iPhone Settings icon. Just tap that icon to start.

iPhone Settings icon

2) Tap the iPhone Safari browser button

On the iPhone Settings panel that comes up, scroll down, and then tap the iPhone Safari browser button.

iPhone Safari settings button

3) Tap the iPhone Safari Clear History, Cookies, and Cache buttons

On the iPhone Safari settings screen, scroll down, and then one after the other, tap the iPhone Safari "Clear History", "Clear Cookies", and "Clear Cache" buttons.

iPhone Safari settings - Clear History, Clear Cookies, Clear Cache

When you tap the iPhone Safari browser Clear History, Cookies, and Cache buttons, you'll be prompted with an "Are you sure?" button, like this one:

iPhone Safari browser - Clear History

Unlike a Mac or Windows browser, there is no way to delete individual items; on the iPhone Safari browser you either have to delete them all, or don't delete any.

Just a year or two ago that's all you had to worry about in regards to browser privacy and security, but these days, with HTML5, you may have to take another step to protect your iPhone browser privacy ...

iPhone privacy -- Wait, there's more -- iPhone Safari browser databases

As the world of web browsing gets more complicated, your iPhone browser privacy/security settings may also have a "Databases" option. If you have a Safari database on your iPhone, here's how to delete that ...

Okay, I admit, I got caught up in the Tiger Woods and Sandra Bullock stories, and I visited TMZ.com on my iPhone. Guess what that got me? That's right, I have a database on my iPhone Safari browser that was created by tmz.com, specifically m.tmz.com.

(If you don't see a "Database" button in your iPhone Safari settings yet, this just means that you haven't visited a website yet that has created a database. This also means that there is nothing else for you to delete right now, but you may want to read the rest of this article, because sooner or later you will probably end up with a Safari database on your iPhone.)

Long story short, the database that was created is named QWAPI, which stands for "Quattro Wireless API". This is a database for a wireless advertising company, and they use the HTML5 database capabilities to store their information in a database on your iPhone. Here's a blurb from their website:

Q Elevation powers the delivery of every ad impression based on:

  • Extensive privacy-friendly behavioral data
  • External data validation and augmentation
  • Enhanced predictive segmentation
  • Options for analysis ... results by device type, carrier and location
  • Campaigns can be targeted ... gender, agi, HHI, ethnicity, education, mobile device ...

(*Al shudders*)

Suffice it to say, I deleted their iPhone browser QWAPI ad-targeting database. Here's a quick look at how I did that:

1) iPhone Safari browser settings - tap Databases

To begin, tap the Databases button on the iPhone Safari settings panel:

iPhone Safari databases button

2) Tap the Edit link on the Safari Databases screen

iPhone Safari browser databases - edit

3) Tap the red circle icon next to the database name

iPhone Safari browser - databases, delete

4) Tap the Delete button that comes up

iPhone Safari browser - databases, delete 2

Just tap that Delete button, and the Safari database will be deleted.

One word of caution here: If you see the database was created by an application that you actually need, of course you don't want to delete it.

iPhone Safari browser privacy and security - summary

Internet/web browser privacy and security seems to be a very interesting topic again these days, as advertisers in particular are doing more and more to track who you are. I hope this iPhone Safari browser privacy and security tutorial has been helpful.

Thanks for the warning! I'll keep a closer look on my database.

As of now there are these:

1. Google Translate Phrases
2. Google Mobile Maps

3. IPhone User Guide

4. mail.google.com

5. RLDGUID = a.ringleaderdigital.com ("a" as in ADVERTISING, maybe?)

6. RLDGUID = m.whitepages.com

7. mail.google.com

8. yahoo_services = mlogin.yahoo.com

~~~~~~~~~

Mysteries to me:

A. Why TWO SETS of mail.google.com databases ?? (There are 20 of the SAME gmail addys in BOTH of those. I would like to delete duplicates but am not sure why there are TWO sets of mail.google.com databases in the first place ??

EACH database also has its own GmailMobileWeb thang.

B. Not sure what #5 & #6 RLDGUID's are, either:

#5 RLDGUID evidently comes from http://ringleaderdigital.com/ who invented RLD per their site. I have no idea why this is in my database.

#6 RLDGUID, since it says whitepages, it may belong to a whitepages app I had but have since deleted the app.

C. I do have ONE yahoo addy, so I guess that accounts for #8.

Thanks!

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I also found a ringleaderdigital database in my iPhone. When I called them yo find out why they claimed to have no idea what I was talking about. It sounds like a very small shop. The person who answered was the secretary for the head of the company. He was not in the office. I did speak to the number 2 man. He had no idea what I was talking about. He was in a bit of a panic and had no answers.

So who are these guys and what gives them the right to store data on my phone.

Can they read other files in my phone?

I just looked on their website, and Ringleader appears to be another company that "lets publishers, agencies and analytics companies identify, track and target mobile and new media users". Nothing like being identified, tracked, and targeted. Makes me feel like I'm being hunted.

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Haha, that's a great story about calling the ringleader office, lol. Sounds like your inquiry got the whole place in an uproar. If they have an email addy, we could bombard them with screenshots of our iphone Settings/Safari/Databases/RLDGUID ringleader... (but I had already deleted it the other day).

And so true re Big Brother & his cousin, Big Biz, hooking up with the Internet (created by Big Gov & its twin, Big Military), to profile all of us & our internet habits. :-/

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Ringleader respawns databases and cookies if you delete them. The company name (and consider what this says about its culture, and morals) is an organized crime term, after all. They are a spam operation and like all such do not offer a legitimate, permanent opt-out. Their opt-out on the website is a sham (which is clear if you read the fine print). It just flags you as someone that does not want spam, so they (1) send you more and (2) can sell you to their underworld clients for a higher price, as a more desirable mark.

I don't know how bad Ringleader is, but they are being sued for what they're doing, as described in this article. I'm curious if "There's an app for that", i.e., an app that will delete their database every hour or so.

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