Apple’s privacy under question as apps gain independent controls

Apple’s privacy under question as apps gain independent controls

Apple’s privacy policy is central to its published ethos – see the ad campaign.what happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.Or maybe what you’re thinking about is when Tim Cook, Apple CEO in 2019, declined a request from the FBI to unlock a suspected terrorist’s iPhone because that would make the phones less secure for everyone. For a long time, Apple’s dedication to the security of users’ data has been a major selling point. But what if it has all been false promises?

Some privacy does exist, at least for Apple’s competitors. App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which asks iPhone users whether they want to allow an app to track their usage data, is estimated to have cost Meta 13 billion dollars in advertising revenue; German regulators are investigating whether the function is anti-competitive. The decisive factor is that Apple’s privacy policy is not used when it comes to its own customized advertisements and user data in general.

As far back as 2016, Apple introduced search ads to the app store. The searches that produce these are tracked, with data collected by Apple to serve “contextual” ads in its apps. Topics and categories of stories read, publications followed or subscribed to, and which apps have notifications turned on: all is tracked.

People walk past an Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York City on January 13, 2023. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

Apple’s privacy in choices

Perhaps there is no need to worry that Apple knows users read the Guardian, and it may be convenient to be recommended Jay Rayner’s latest podcast. But some data can be more personal, like Apple knowing the pet name you can use for your partner, or the name of the alarm that wakes you up for work. These are not paranoid suggestions, but examples of the data on the devicepp send to Apple via Siri and dictation.

See also  These 8 low supply cryptos are selling out fast

In theory, all information about a user is anonymous, associated with a random identifier, not an Apple ID. The advertising system does not use a personal profile, but data from a user’s Apple account and Apple’s other services to determine which ads to display. In addition, users can opt out of analytics when setting up an iPhone, or in Settings (although the user is warned if doing so is to the great detriment of the quality of Apple-provided services). These are all marks in the “innocent” column, and Apple’s privacy is therefore upheld.

The results are smart, regardless. According to Apple, in Q1 last year, 78 percent of searches in the App Store were for apps that users would have been shown ads for had they turned on personalized advertising. The proposal is therefore that each iPhone user’s (anonymous) data is analyzed to save the effort of writing a search.

However, anonymity and data privacy standards have proven to fall short of Apple’s privacy marketing hype.

Unmysked: the apps that call home

In late 2022, a certain Tommy Mysk (of Mysk Co.) contested Apple’s privacy claims. Investigations by Mysk showed that the App Store app sent Apple real-time data about ads seen, how those apps were found, and even how long a user spent looking at an app. Similar tracking was observed in Apple Music, Apple TV, stocks and books. According to Mysk“the level of detail [collated] is shocking for a company like Apple.”

More revelations followed. Musk discovered no difference in data tracking of a user who had opted out of data analysis compared to one who had consented. The final blow was the discovery that the analysis of data sent to Apple includes a permanent and unchangeable ID number (DSID). The DSID is directly linked to a user’s full name, date of birth, email address, phone number – Tommy Mysk said “knowing the DSID is like knowing your name. It is your one-to-one identity.”

See also  iPhone not unlocking Apple Watch? How to solve the problem

The problem is twofold. On the one hand, there is an illusion of choice and consent that has been shattered. On the other, the broken promise of anonymity.

Apple has positioned itself as the most secure and private operating system for the phone, but the claims are questionable. Currently, it does not appear to sell or provide data to third parties, but it is, in business terms, an untapped revenue stream. If users stop buying Apple hardware as regularly as shareholders want, we may find that Apple decides to monetize the data assets collected on its privacy-friendly operating system.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *