Apple iPhone data not as anonymous as companies say: researchers

Mysk’s app developers claim that the analysis shows that the detailed analytics data that Apple records about what users do in the App Store can be tied directly to accounts.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Mysk researchers said Apple’s analytics data includes a Directory Services Identifier (DSID) that uniquely identifies an iCloud account and is linked to name, email, and other iCloud-related data.

Mysk said the tech giant’s claims in its device analytics and privacy statement that the data it collects does not personally identify users are “inaccurate,” and the App Store continues to send detailed analytics to Apple even when analytics sharing is turned off.

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This illustrative photo shows the Apple App Store logo reflected from an iPhone onto the back of an iMac on August 26, 2021 in Los Angeles.

This illustrative photo shows the Apple App Store logo reflected from an iPhone onto the back of an iMac on August 26, 2021 in Los Angeles.
(Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

“This means that your detailed behavior as you browse apps in the App Store is sent to Apple and includes the ID needed to link the data to you,” Mysk said, noting that the DSID can also be used by other Apple apps sent for analysis purposes.

Musk said there was no way to stop it.

In its Device Analytics and Privacy Statement, Apple says iPhone Analytics may include details about hardware and operating system specifications, performance statistics, and data about how you use devices and applications.

Customers experience the new iPhone 14 series smartphones at the Apple Inc flagship store in Shanghai, China, 13 October 2022.

Customers experience the new iPhone 14 series smartphones at the Apple Inc flagship store in Shanghai, China, 13 October 2022.
(CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

“None of the information collected personally identifies you. Personal data is either not logged at all, is subject to privacy protection techniques such as differential privacy, or is removed from all reports before being sent to Apple. “You can review this information on your iOS device by going to Settings > Privacy & Security > Analytics & Improvements and tapping Analytics Data.”

Apple notes that if the user agrees to send analytics information to Apple from multiple devices using the same iCloud account, some Apple app usage data may be correlated across those devices by synchronizing with End-to -End encryption is performed.

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“We do this in a manner that does not identify you to Apple,” the statement said.

Users can also choose to disable device analytics sharing altogether.

The App Store icon displayed on a phone screen can be seen in this illustrative photo taken in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021.

The App Store icon displayed on a phone screen can be seen in this illustrative photo taken in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021.
(Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, the App Store and Privacy Policy state that personal information is collected to improve the stores.

“To find ways to improve the Stores, we use information about your browsing, purchases, searches, and downloads. These records are stored using the IP address, a randomized unique identifier (if one exists), and the Apple ID when you log into the App Store or other Apple online stores,” Apple said.

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This page mentions opting out of personalized advertising, but the Improving Stores section does not mention settings that would allow users to prevent Apple from seeing personal information.

Fox News Digital’s request for comment from Apple went unanswered.

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