Researchers say iPhone Usage Data Is Not As Anonymous As Apple Claims

A distinct digital ID could be used to associate device activity with your account.

Mysk code sleuths are challenging Apple’s lauded focus on privacy. Apple’s anonymous usage data for some in-house apps, according to the developers, includes a Directory Services Identifier (DSID) that is uniquely linked to your Apple ID and iCloud data. According to Mysk, Apple could use this DSID to track your App Store browsing habits. This appears to contradict Apple’s claim that “none” of the data is personally identifying, and it appears to apply to iOS 16.

The researchers previously revealed that iOS 14.6 sends large amounts of first-party app activity to Apple even when device analytics are turned off or otherwise limited. This includes the model of your iPhone, keyboard languages, and other information that could theoretically be used to fingerprint your device. According to Gizmodo, after Mysk published its privacy data, users filed a class action lawsuit against Apple.

Apple’s analytics data include an ID called “dsId”. We were able to verify that “dsId” is the “Directory Services Identifier”, an ID that uniquely identifies an iCloud account. Meaning, Apple’s analytics can personally identify you 👇

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will keep you updated if we hear back. According to Mysk, Apple’s tool to prevent third-party app tracking debuted in iOS 14.5, so this shouldn’t affect other software you use on your devices.

It’s unclear what Apple sees. According to Gizmodo, Apple encrypts usage data and does not necessarily process personal and general information together. The issue, as you might expect, is that Apple does not disclose its analytics collection practices. Even if the data collection is limited, there is concern that Apple may not be keeping its privacy promises.

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