For all of Apple’s talk about how private your iPhone is, the company vacuums up a lot of data about you. iPhones do have a privacy setting that is supposed to turn off that tracking. According to a new report by independent researchers, though, Apple collects extremely detailed information on you with its own apps even when you turn off tracking, an apparent direct contradiction of Apple’s own description of how the privacy protection works.
The iPhone Analytics setting makes an explicit promise. Turn it off, and Apple says that it will “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.” However, Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, two app developers and security researchers at the software company Mysk, took a look at the data collected by a number of Apple iPhone apps — the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks. They found the analytics control and other privacy settings had no obvious effect on Apple’s data collection — the tracking remained the same whether iPhone Analytics was switched on or off.
“The level of detail is shocking for a company like Apple,” Mysk told Gizmodo. The App Store appeared to harvest information about every single thing you did in real-time, including what you tapped on, which apps you search for, what ads you saw and how long you looked at a given app and how you found it.
The app sent details about you and your device as well, including ID numbers, what kind of phone you’re using, your screen resolution, your keyboard languages and how you’re connected to the internet — notably, the kind of information commonly used for device fingerprinting.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.
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