Apple is in the hot seat following reports it ignores its own privacy settings and collects a massive amount of user data.
Google and Meta are usually the ones in the news for collecting large quantities of user data without permission. Apple is the latest company facing those allegations following a Gizmodo report citing researchers’ claims that Apple’s own apps collect user data, even when the iPhone Analytics setting is turned off.
According to the report, when iPhone Analytics is turned off, Apple promises it will “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.” Unfortunately, Apple appears to do the exact opposite, collecting data from the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, and Stocks. What’s more, there is simply no privacy setting that turns off the mass collection of data.
“The level of detail is shocking for a company like Apple,” researcher Tommy Mysk told Gizmodo.
Gizmodo outlines exactly what information the App Store is collecting:
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, how you’re connected to the internet—notably, the kind of information commonly used for device fingerprinting.
Again, it’s important to note that absolutely no setting or preference inhibits Apple’s data collection.
The response has been — understandably — swift and severe, with Apple facing a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in California, citing a violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act. Not surprisingly, the lawsuit points out Apple’s claims to respect user privacy, a point it has built much of its marketing around.
“Privacy is one of the main issues that Apple uses to set its products apart from competitors,” said plaintiff Elliot Libman, available on Bloomberg Law. “But Apple’s privacy guarantees are completely illusory.”
Cracks have been showing in Apple’s facade of respecting user privacy, but this may be the most damning evidence yet that the company may not be as different from its rivals as it likes to claim.