Apple faces fourth iPhone analytics settings privacy lawsuit


Tom Cook poses in front of the Apple logo, repeated four times.

The fourth time is the charm.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Staff/Thomas Germain (fake images)

Apple is famous for breaking records and is apparently just as competitive when it comes to being sued. The company has just been hit with a fourth class action lawsuit over charges surreptitious collection of iPhone data. Three of those lawsuits were filed in January alone. Awesome.

In November, Gizmodo exclusively reported in research showing that your iPhone collects hyper-detailed data about what you do in your apps like the App Store, Apple Stocks, Apple Music, Apple News and more, even when you turn off iPhone Analytics privacy settings, which you explicitly promise to stop sniff.

Days later, an iPhone user filed a class action lawsuit against the company in California. A Pennsylvania resident followed up with a second class action case in January, and a New York resident, apparently feeling left out, filed a third case a week and a half later. Now, there’s a fourth class action lawsuit from another disgruntled Californian, uncovered in a new report from register.

“As privacy concerns grow, Apple has sought to position itself as a leader in promoting how its mobile devices allow users to control the information they share,” said plaintiff Julia Cima argaEd in the complaint. “However, Apple does not comply with user requests to restrict data sharing.”

Gizmodo contacted Apple about this issue for the seventh time this morning, which has to be another record. As happened the previous six times, the company did not respond. Apple hasn’t said a single word to defend this privacy issue in public.

As you rotate around your iPhone, it creates many opportunities to collect data, which can be useful for a variety of purposes. Some of that data includes analytics information, which measures how you interact with certain applications. In our original report, Gizmodo noted that it’s unclear exactly how Apple uses analytics data. The company quietly updated its Analytics Privacy Policy with a vague explanation a few weeks after the November story, writing that the data is used “to help Apple improve and develop its products and services.”

However, that policy also appears to include several glaring misstatements, based on testing by Mysk, the app development company that originally spotted the issue.

Apple’s privacy policies say that “you can also choose to disable Device Analytics sharing entirely” by turning off the Share iPhone Analytics setting. But when Mysk analyzed the data your iPhone sends to Apple, the test showed that the data is collected no matter how you’ve adjusted your privacy settings.

Mysk’s tests looked at the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, and Stocks. Apple collected data including detailed real-time information about everything you’re doing in certain apps — not just the things you type or tap, but even how long you spend on certain pages and what ads and content you see, according to the test. . In some cases, this could pose a serious privacy issue. On the App Store, for example, searches for and downloads of specific apps can reveal anything from users’ sexual orientation to religion to sensitive health issues like addiction and substance abuse.

But that is not all. Apple’s privacy policy says that all of this data is anonymous and that “none of the information collected identifies you personally.” However, additional testing has shown that the data collected by the company includes a permanent, unchangeable identification number called a Directory Services Identifier, or DSID, which is linked directly to his full namephone number, date of birth, email address, and more information linked to your iCloud ID account.

Mysk continues with his tests. The company’s latest research found that the same privacy issues on the iPhone persist on Mac laptops. The Mysk researchers say the app store on Apple computers collects the same type of analytics information, along with DSID, regardless of your computer’s Analytics privacy settings.

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