Apps Still Track User Data on Apple’s App Store: Study

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Posted: Posted Date – 1:31 PM, Sat – Apr 9, 22

London: Apple’s privacy changes in iOS 14 to prevent apps from tracking user data did not completely prevent developers from this illegal practice and several apps still track data despite the user asking the apps not to be tracked, a study found.

The study of 1,759 iOS apps from the UK App Store before and after Apple implemented the main privacy feature last year found that Apple’s new policies more than deliver on their promises by making tracking more difficult.
“At the same time, apps still make extensive use of big-company tracking technology and send a range of user and device characteristics across the internet for cohort tracking and user fingerprinting,” the company said. team from Oxford University in the UK. in a paper.

Researchers found concrete evidence of apps calculating a fingerprint-derived mutual identifier through the use of “server-side code” – a violation of Apple’s new policies and highlighting the limits of enforcement power of Apple as a private data protection regulator.

“Indeed, Apple itself engages in some forms of user tracking and exempts invasive data practices such as first-party tracking and credit scoring from its new privacy policies,” said Konrad Kollnig, Oxford University Department of Computing.

“App privacy nutrition labels were often inaccurate and are currently misleading to consumers. These observations are at odds with the company’s marketing claims and the resulting expectations of many iOS users,” noted l ‘team.

Despite the positive developments over the past months and years, notably thanks to Apple’s initiatives, there is still a long way to go for app privacy.

The researchers lamented that violations of various aspects of data protection and privacy laws remain widespread across apps, while enforcement of existing data protection laws against such practices remains sporadic.
“Apple’s privacy efforts are hampered by its closed-source philosophy on iOS and the opacity around the enforcement of its App Store review policies. These decisions by Apple remain a significant factor behind the limited transparency around iOS privacy,” he pointed out.

The team also found that Apple’s privacy nutrition labels were often inaccurate and currently misleading consumers.

“These observations are at odds with the company’s marketing claims and the resulting expectations for many iOS users,” they said.

To defend user privacy, Apple introduced two important changes with iOS 14 last year: App Tracking Transparency (ATT), a mandatory opt-in system to enable tracking on iOS, and Privacy Nutrition Labels, which disclose types of data that each application processes. .

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