While posing for years as a fervent supporter of users’ rights to their own privacy, even allowing iPhone users to opt out of Facebook’s tracking of online activity, it would appear that Apple is practicing double standards when it comes to its own user data collection policies.
According to allegations that are the subject of a lawsuit filed in a US court, Apple continues to collect detailed information about users of its products, even after they have opted out by checking the relevant iOS settings.
According to allegations made by Mysk security company experts Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, the iOS operating system continues to report to Apple “every touch you make” on the touchscreen inside one of the company’s apps. According to the accusers, attempts to disable data collection, for example by ticking the “completely disable device analytics sharing” option in the Settings menu, did not affect the data submission.
The main argument in support of the charges filed in court is also the abundance of data collected. For example, a user using the App Store app on dan’s iPhone will unknowingly send Apple data such as search history, and how much time he spent viewing an app’s page. In another example, for users using the Apple Stocks app, the US company will receive a list of the economic entities the user has tracked, all the items read in the app and the names of any stocks they have searched. All this information is transmitted to Apple in real time. Some of Apple’s apps even collect detailed information about the user’s iPhone, such as model, screen resolution and keyboard language.
In other circumstances, these practices might be considered acceptable, as long as users are fairly informed about the data collected and have given their consent. But in this case, we’re talking about users who expressly checked the settings that should have blocked the collection of information from Apple devices.
The class-action lawsuit filed in a California court is accused of violating California’s “California Privacy Invasion” law, and a possible unfavorable verdict for Apple could have stinging financial consequences, with the decision setting a precedent for similar lawsuits filed in other parts of the world.
The lawsuit focuses not so much on whether Apple is collecting this data, but on how Apple has made available relevant settings, such as “Allow apps to request tracking” and “Share Analytics,” that give users the perception that they can disable the collection of information.