Best Top Reviews Online

iOS Developers Warn Against Apple Apps Ignore Privacy Settings And Track An Unbelievable Amount Of Information

Two iOS developers used a jailbroken iPhone to decrypt and analyze device-to-Apple network traffic. The developers discovered that many of Apple’s apps send detailed user behavior data and unique device identifiers back to Apple, even when analytics sharing, personalized advertisements, and personalized recommendations are disabled. This collection of data appears to contradict Apple’s stated mission to protect user privacy.

However, these new findings are not particularly surprising. Apple implemented its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature in December 2020, which reveals the data collection and sharing practices of App Store apps and gives users the option to disable tracking and data sharing when it involves third parties. However, while ATT can prevent apps from tracking users across third-party apps and websites, first-party in-app tracking is still permitted, meaning Apple and others are free to collect user behavior data for their purposes without violating ATT’s policies.

Apple offers a variety of toggles for controlling data collection and usage within iOS and iPadOS that extend beyond ATT. There are toggles for location services, ad personalization, and device analytics sharing on the Privacy & Security page of the settings app. On the analytics sharing, toggle’s about page, it states that users “may choose to disable sharing of Device Analytics entirely” (emphasis added).

However, iOS developers Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry discovered that multiple Apple apps, including the App Store, the iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, and Stocks, send analytics data back to Apple whether analytics sharing is enabled or disabled in the Settings app. The developers made this discovery on a jailbroken iPhone running iOS 14.6, which allowed them to decrypt and read the contents of requests sent to Apple. Mysk and Bakry discovered that the requests included multiple unique device identifiers, additional device information, and comprehensive user behavior data.

The developers analyzed the outgoing network traffic on a non-jailbroken iPhone running iOS 16, the most recent version of Apple’s mobile operating system, and observed Apple applications sending similar requests to Apple. The developers cannot decrypt the requests and confirm that they contain the same user behavior data without jailbreaking the phone. However, the requests were sent with the same frequency and under the same conditions as those observed on the jailbroken device, indicating that Apple apps on iOS 16 likely collect data in the same manner.

In the case of the App Store, Apple received ongoing information about user behavior in real-time, including tapped elements, search queries, advertisements displayed, and apps viewed. Possibly, the analytics sharing setting prevents the operating system from sending analytics data to Apple, but not individual Apple applications; therefore, the App Store is free to share all of this analytics data with Apple independently of the OS. However, the App Store has its setting for Personalized Recommendations, and disabling this setting did not affect the data sent to Apple.

The developers think that the amount of detailed information contained within the analytics data sent to Apple is “too much even if the user has consented to share analytics data with Apple,” regardless of the effectiveness of the data collection and usage controls in the operating system and the apps themselves.

Why Trust Us?

Best Top Reviews Online was established in 2018 to provide our readers with detailed, truthful, and impartial advice on what to buy. We now have millions of monthly users from all over the world and annually evaluate over a thousand products.

The above article was written by the BestTopReviewsOnline team, which consists of some of the most knowledgeable technical experts in the United States. Our team consists of highly regarded writers with vast experience in smartphones, computer components, technology apps, security, and photography, among other fields.

Related Stories

  • All Post
  • Best Picks
  • Explainers
  • How To
  • News
  • Versus

Get more info

Deals

Reviews

Best Products

Buying Guides

Contact Us

About Us

We provide a platform for our customers to rate and review services and products, as well as the stores that sell them. We research and compare the most popular brands and models before narrowing it down to the top ten, providing you with the most comprehensive and reliable buying advice to help you make your decision.

Disclaimer

BestTopReviewsOnline.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Address & Map

20 S Santa Cruz Ave, Suite 300, Los Gatos, CA 95030, United States

© 2022 BestTopReviewsOnline.com Pty. Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Licensing: All third-party trademarks, images, and copyrights used on this page are for comparative advertising, criticism, or review. As this is a public forum where users can express their opinions on specific products and businesses, the opinions expressed do not reflect those of BestTopReviewsOnline.com.