Thomas Germain on Gizmodo has an alarming piece on research from two app developers, Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, who claim that despite Apple’s explicit promise to allow you to turn off all tracking, Apple still tracks you.
Apple advertises its ability to turn off iPhone tracking on its privacy settings. But according to Mysk and Bakry, after turning off tracking, Apple continues to collect data from many iPhone apps, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, and Stocks. They found the analytic control and other privacy settings had no discernable effect on Apple’s data collection.
“Opting-out or switching the personalization options off did not reduce the amount of detailed analytics that the app was sending,” Mysk told Gizmodo. “I switched all the possible options off, namely personalized ads, personalized recommendations, and sharing usage data and analytics.” Apple still continued to track.
What could be at stake for consumers? Germain wrote:
“In the App Store, for example, the fact that you’re looking at apps related to mental health, addiction, sexual orientation, and religion can reveal things you might not want to be sent to corporate servers.”
Germain concedes that Apple may not be using this information, but it is impossible to know since Apple has not responded. Perhaps a hint of an answer was foreshadowed by Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of software engineering, when he recently told The Wall Street Journal that “quality advertising and product privacy could coexist.”
That is far too vague to explain how Apple’s explicit privacy promises work in the real world. PPSA calls on Apple to provide a full explanation of how it treats digital privacy.