What happens on your iPhone doesn’t quite stay on your iPhone

What happens on your iPhone doesn’t quite stay on your iPhone
(Representative image) Apple is allegedly using 5,400 data trackers on the iPhone to share upto 1.5GB of data with third partiesReuters

  • Apple iPhones are sending as much as 1.5GB of tracking data to third parties according to a report published by Geoffery Fowler in the Washington Post.
  • If the allegations hold true, it undercuts Apple’s key selling pitch of offering its users unparalleled privacy and data security.
  • The report estimates that there are around 5,400 unwanted data trackers on the iPhone which send out data.
Apple’s key selling pitch has always been the unparalleled privacy it offers its users. And, it has been shouting it out on the rooftops. During CES 2019, its huge billboard said, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.

Like all well-publicised truths, this might turn out to be a lie — and it’s not the first time its been called into question. Last year, Apple had to close a privacy loophole in its system that allowed third party apps to gather data; while preaching the importance of privacy during Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What happens on your iPhone doesn’t quite stay on your iPhone
Apple's ad trolling Google at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019

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The Silicon Valley tech giant is now on the receiving end, as it is being accused of sending tracking data of its users’ iPhones to third parties.

How bad is it?

Geoffery Fowler, The Washington Post’s tech journalist, revealed that the iPhone comes equipped with nearly 5,400 data trackers — ‘hidden’ in its apps. These apps are sharing up to 1.5GB of data with third parties like MicrosoftOneDrive, Nike, Spotify, IBM’s the Weather Channel, and the Washington Post itself.

Apple asserts that all of its components are designed to ‘provide advanced security and privacy at every level of the system’.

At Apple we do a great deal to help users keep their data private. Apple hardware and software are designed to provide advanced security and privacy at every level of the system.

Statement from Apple spokesperson

Apparently, it’s not Apple’s fault that your data is being transmitted out. There’s a ‘Limit Ad Tracking’ feature in every iPhone’s iOS settings that one needs to turn on for the data to stay within the phone. But it’s turned off by default.

Non-tech savvy individuals are unlikely to know that they have to go hunting through the phone’s settings, to declare their ‘non-consent’ about being tracked.

‘Valid’ consent is something tech watch dogs all over the world are taking seriously. Earlier this year, Google was fined $57 million by the European Union under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for not making information for data collection easily accessible.

See also:
Apple's privacy promises would have been useless against a simple missed call from WhatsApp hackers

Google could be bankrupting Apple's privacy promises by handing over iPhone data to the police

Apple CEO Tim Cook says digital privacy 'has become a crisis'