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Apple iPhone data not as anonymous as company says: researchers

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App developers at Mysk claim that evaluation shows the detailed analytics data Apple records about what users do within the App Store could be linked on to accounts. 

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Mysk researchers said Apple’s analytics data include a Directory Services Identifier (DSID), which uniquely identifies an iCloud account and is related to name, email and another iCloud-related data.

Mysk said the tech giant’s claims in its device analytics and privacy statement that the collected data doesn’t personally discover users is “inaccurate,” and that the App Store continues to send detailed analytics to Apple even when sharing analytics is turned off.

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

“Which means that your detailed behavior when browsing apps on the App Store is distributed to Apple, and comprises the ID needed to link the information to you,” Mysk said, noting that the DSID can be sent by other Apple apps for analytics purposes.

Mysk said there was no approach to stop it. 

In its Device Analytics & Privacy statement, Apple says iPhone Analytics may include details about hardware and operating system specifications, performance statistics and data about how you utilize devices and applications. 

Customers experience the new iPhone 14 series smartphones at the Apple Inc flagship store in Shanghai, China, Oct 13, 2022.

Customers experience the brand new iPhone 14 series smartphones on the Apple Inc flagship store in Shanghai, China, Oct 13, 2022.
(CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

“Not one of the collected information identifies you personally. Personal data is either not logged in any respect, is subject to privacy preserving techniques corresponding to differential privacy, or is faraway from any reports before they’re sent to Apple,” it said. “You may review this information in your iOS device by going to Settings > Privacy & Security > Analytics & Improvements and tapping Analytics Data.”

Apple notes that, should the user conform to send analytics information to Apple from multiple devices that use the identical iCloud account, it might correlate some usage data about Apple apps across those devices by syncing using end-to-end encryption. 

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“We do that in a fashion that doesn’t discover you to Apple,” the statement says. 

Users might also decide to disable the sharing of device analytics altogether.

App Store icon displayed on a phone screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland, on July 18, 2021.

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

Nonetheless, the App Store and Privacy statement says personal information is collected to enhance the stores. 

“To seek out ways to enhance the stores, we use details about your browsing, purchases, searches and downloads. These records are stored with IP address, a random unique identifier (where that arises) and Apple ID if you end up signed in to the App Store or other Apple online stores,” Apple said.

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On that page, it mentions turning off personalized ads, however the “Improving the Stores” section doesn’t mention settings that will let users keep Apple from seeing personal information.

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

Julia Musto is a reporter for Fox News and Fox Business Digital. 

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