Apple is watching you! Tech giant collects data about users from built in apps – including your ID numbers and what stocks you watch – even when iPhone is on ‘disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether’ setting, study reveals

  • An independent test shows Apple is collecting data from users while they use the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks apps
  • Every tap they make, what stocks they are looking at and how long they look at an advertisement is recorded and sent directly to Apple’s servers
  • The data also includes ID numbers and devices being used, which is enough information for device fingerprinting
  • The testing was conducted on iOS 14.5, but the researchers believe it is likely the same behavior with the latest operating system, iOS 16 

Apple may not be the pro-privacy company it so proudly proclaims to be – a new study finds the tech giant is collecting data on its customers while they use its apps, even when they have turned off analytics sharing.

The discovery was made by two developers who found the tech giant is recording your every move in the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks.

This allows Apple to create profiles on users that include how long they looked at a specific app, the stocks they are watching and what advertisements they saw, along with ID numbers and the type of device used.

It is not clear why Apple is backtracking on its pro-privacy stance, but it recently added advertisements to the App Store app and the data collection could be a way to better understand how their ads are working.

The independent study was conducted by a pair of software developers who found Apple is recording your every move in its built-in apps, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks

Apple Device & Privacy support page states that it must have consent from the user to collect such information from devices.

‘None of the collected information identifies you personally,’ the page reads.

‘Personal data is either not logged at all, is subject to privacy preserving techniques such as differential privacy, or is removed from any reports before they’re sent to Apple.’

DailyMail.com has contacted Apple for comment.

Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, the security researchers who uncovered the data collection, posted videos on Twitter showing how the information is stored by Apple.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=8JxvH80Rrcw%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26hl%3Den-US

The team, however, notes in a video about their study that ‘the behavior of iOS 16 is likely to be the same.’ The video shows a screen with several requests, all time stamped, that are sent to Apple from the App Store app

The data in a single request shows Apple is collecting ID numbers that can identify the user

This was only found in iOS 14.6 – ‘It’s unclear if Apple still collects analytics data in iOS 16,’ the team shared in a tweet posted to their company account, Mysk.

The team, however, notes in a video about their study that ‘the behavior of iOS 16 is likely to be the same.’

The video shows a screen with several requests, all time stamped, that are sent to Apple from the App Store app.

The requests are each time the user was in the App Store app. 

Within a single request are redacted IDs that can identify the session and map it to the user’s data profile.

Also hiding in the collection of data is the user’s device that is being used.

The example shown in the video shows the person is using an ‘iPhone 10’.

Also hiding in the collection of data is the user’s device that is being used. The example shown in the video shows the person is using an ‘iPhone 10’

The request also shows the user viewed the app Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles while searching through the App Store and how long they spent looking at it

The video also shows the user viewed the app Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles while searching through the App Store and how long they spent looking at it.

While a crossword puzzle app might sound harmless, Gizmodo provides a more serious reason why Apple’s data collection should not be ignored.

If you are searching for mental health, sexual orientation and religious apps in the App Store, this data is sent directly to the tech giant’s servers and stored – some of this may be sensitive information for some people.

The researchers conducted similar testing with the Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge apps and found that when the analytic sharing is disabled the apps cannot collect data from the device.

Not only is collecting data without consent a serious issue, but Apple positions itself as a company that respects its users privacy.

On its Privacy page, the tech giant clearly shares: ‘Privacy is a fundamental human right. It’s also one of our core values. Which is why we design our products and services to protect it. That’s the kind of innovation we believe in.’

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