Apple is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly harvesting data from iPhone users even when the company’s privacy settings promise not to. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in California federal court, comes days after Gizmodo exclusively reported on research on how multiple iPhone apps send Apple Analytics data, whether the iPhone Analytics privacy setting is on or off.
The issue was spotted by two independent researchers at software company Mysk, who found that Apple’s App Store sends the company extensive information about almost everything a user does in the app, despite a privacy setting, iPhone Analytics, which claims to “turn off Device Analytics Full Sharing” when turned off. Gizmodo asked researchers to perform additional testing on other iPhone apps, including Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks Researchers have found that the problem persists in most of Apple’s built-in iPhone apps.
The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act. “Privacy is one of the primary issues Apple uses to differentiate its products from competitors,” plaintiff Elliot Libman said in the lawsuit, which can be read at Bloomberg Law. “But Apple’s privacy guarantees are completely illusory.” The company plastered billboards across the country with the slogan “Privacy. It’s the iPhone.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As seen in a video posted on the Mysk YouTube channel, the App Store appears to collect information about your activity in real time, including what you tap, apps you search for, ads you see, how you found a given app and how long you looked at the app page.
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Apple’s privacy settings explicitly promise to disable this type of tracking. But in testing, disabling the iPhone Analytics setting had no obvious effect on data collection, or any of the other built-in iPhone settings intended to protect your privacy from Apple’s data collection.
Mysk’s testing on the App Store revealed that Apple receives this data along with details that can identify you and your device, including identification numbers, the type of phone you use, the resolution of your screen, your keyboard languages and how you are connected to the internet, the type of information commonly used for device fingerprinting.
When researchers looked at other iPhone apps requested by Gizmodo, they found that many behaved similarly. While the Health and Wallet apps didn’t collect analytics data, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, iTunes Store, and Stocks all did. The Stocks app shared data, including your list of watched stocks, the names of stocks you viewed or searched for and timestamps of when you did so, as well as a record of all articles from press that you saw in the app.
“The level of detail is shocking for a company like Apple,” Tommy Mysk previously told Gizmodo.
This data can be sensitive, especially considering that simply searching for apps related to topics such as religion, LGBTQ issues, health, and addiction can reveal details about a person’s life.
“Through its pervasive and illegal activity of tracking and data collection, Apple knows even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing aspects of the user’s use of the app, whether or not the user accepts the offer. Apple’s delusion to keep these activities private,” the lawsuit said.
Apple is under increased scrutiny for its privacy practices as the company expands into digital advertising. Apple recently introduces new announcements in the App Store, reportedly intends to advertisements on Apple TVand seems focused on poaching small business advertisers from Meta, Facebook’s parent company. While Apple’s corporate literature loudly declares that “privacy is a human right”, it remains to be seen to what extent the iPhone maker is willing to compromise that right as it develops new ventures. data-driven business.
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