Is Apple Watching Our Every Move?


| LAST UPDATE 11/10/2022

By Veronica Anderson
Apple iPhone data breach
Jakob Montrasio via Getty Images

We all love our Apple products, but the multi-billion-dollar business may not be the pro-privacy company it claims to be. A recent study found the tech company is actually collecting tons of data from its customers while they have their apps open, despite their analytics sharing being shut off. So what's that all about?

Two developers, Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, began researching the pro-privacy company only to find out the tech giant is actually monitoring every decision in their own pre-installed App Store, Apple Tv, Books, Apple Music, and Stock apps. These apps were found to send Apple requests, including what apps a user was looking at, what advertisements they saw, what stocks they were monitoring, and more. The data also included an ID number and the type of Apple product being used, which is sufficient for device fingerprinting. Device fingerprinting is done by websites and apps to collect information from a user's device as they connect to these apps, websites, and servers in order to track their data and assess the user's intentions. 

Apple iPhone privacy breach
Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
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The recent study comes just over a year after the tech giant released its somewhat controversial privacy control policy, which had iPhone users give permission for apps to track their activity for advertising purposes. However, it is unclear why Apple is retracting its pro-privacy attitude. But after they added additional advertisements to the App Store, data collection could explain how their ads are performing. 

However, according to the Apple Device & Privacy support page, users must give their consent to allow the tech company to obtain such information from its clients and their devices. The page notes, "None of the collected information identifies you personally." It continues, "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." Well, that's a relief. However, Mysk and Bakry focused their research on iOS 14.6, not iOS 16, but they figured "the behavior of iOS 16 is likely to be the same."

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