Apple iPhone data isn’t as anonymous as the company says: researchers

Mysk app developers claim that the analysis shows detailed analytics data that Apple logs about what users do in the App Store and can be linked directly to accounts.

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

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

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

“This means that your detailed behavior when browsing apps on the App Store is sent to Apple, and contains the identifier required to associate the data with you,” Misk said, noting that the DSID is also sent by other Apple apps for analysis purposes.

Misk said there was no way to stop him.

In its privacy and device analytics statement, Apple says iPhone Analytics may include details about hardware and operating system specifications, performance statistics, and data about how you use devices and apps.

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

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

“None of the information collected identifies you personally. Personal data is either not logged at all, subject to privacy-preserving technologies such as differential privacy, or removed from any reports before being sent to Apple,” it said. 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 a user consents to analytics information being sent to Apple from multiple devices that use the same iCloud account, it may link certain usage data about Apple apps across those devices by syncing using end-to-end encryption.

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

Users may also choose to completely disable device analytics sharing.

The App Store icon is seen on a phone screen in this pictogram taken in Krakow, Poland, on July 18, 2021.

The App Store icon is seen on a phone screen in this pictogram taken in Krakow, Poland, on July 18, 2021.
(Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, the App Store and its privacy statement says that personal information is collected to improve the Stores.

“To find ways to improve Stores, we use information about your browsing, purchases, searches, and downloads. These logs are stored with your IP address, a random unique ID (when it appears), and your Apple ID when you sign in to the App Store or other Apple online stores.”

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On that page, it mentions turning off personalized ads, but the “Improve Stores” section doesn’t mention settings that would allow users to prevent Apple from seeing personal information.

Fox News Digital’s request for comment was not returned from Apple.

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