Privacy Settings – NOT As Private As You Think

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This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)

After years of Apple claiming the iPhone to be the most secure smartphone device on the market, a new privacy lawsuit might show otherwise. The lawsuit alleges that Apple continues to track user data in stock iPhone apps (applications that are installed on an iPhone by default, such as Maps, the App Store, and more). It claims that options allowing users to prevent their phones from sharing device analytics data, prevent apps from tracking data, and more are meaningless.

The filing of the lawsuit coincides with a Gizmodo report of research into how multiple iPhone apps send Apple analytics data, regardless of whether the iPhone Analytics privacy setting is turned on or off.

Two independent researchers from the software company Mysk found that the Apple App Store sends the company exhaustive information about nearly everything a user does in the app, despite a privacy setting, which claims to “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether” when switched off. The researchers found that the problem persists across most of Apple’s suite of built-in iPhone apps.

A follow-up video was posted on the Mysk Company YouTube channel and details that the App Store appears to harvest information about your activity in real time, including what you tap on, which apps you search for, what ads you see, how you found a given app and how long you looked at the app’s page.

Mysk’s tests on the App Store found that Apple receives that data along with details that can identify a user and their device, including ID numbers, what kind of phone you’re using, your screen resolution, your keyboard languages and how you’re connected to the internet—the kind of information commonly used for device fingerprinting.

Currently, the lawsuit is only at the beginning stage so we cannot confirm nor deny these allegations, but if proven to be true this news might be detrimental to Apple’s image in the public eye as being the most secure and privacy aware company in the smartphone market.

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