Researchers Voice Concerns Over Apple’s Privacy Protection

Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross Senior Writer
Published on: April 10, 2024
Tyler Cross Tyler Cross
Published on: April 10, 2024 Senior Writer

Researchers at Aalto University found troubling issues with Apple’s privacy protection policies. Namely, that it was nearly impossible to hide data from Apple.

Despite many studies being done into how tech companies handle user data, it’s the first major study done into the Apple ecosystem privacy protections: it has alarming results for consumers. The peer-reviewed study is available to read online for free.

One major problem they outline with Apple’s ecosystem is that obfuscation is used in several places to mask how much data is being given to Apple.

A prominent example they use is that when users are given the option to enable or disable Siri, choosing the disable option doesn’t prevent Siri from harvesting your data, it only stops the voice recognition software. This means that anyone who chose this option to value their privacy would see practically no protection.

Researchers studied apps that were integral to Apple’s overall ecosystem, including Siri, Family Sharing, Safari, FaceTime, Location Services, Find My, Touch ID, and iMessage. They chose apps that couldn’t easily be removed from Apple and that most users would regularly interact with. After completing the first wave of tests, they then gathered user feedback to compare their results to what the average users’ experience and beliefs were.

They found that all of these apps collected user data even when they appeared to be disabled, similar to the Siri example. Many users expected this, others believed they had successfully opted out of giving data to Apple. Some even mentioned that Apple’s information sharing has led to family disputes.

“The online instructions for restricting data access are very complex and confusing, and the steps required are scattered in different places. There’s no clear direction on whether to go to the app settings, the central settings – or even both,” explained Amel Bourdoucen, one of the researchers who analyzed Apple.

“When making adjustments, users don’t get feedback on whether they’ve succeeded. They then get lost along the way, go backwards in the process and scroll randomly, not knowing if they’ve done enough.”

About the Author
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Senior Writer
Published on: April 10, 2024

About the Author

Tyler is a writer at SafetyDetectives with a passion for researching all things tech and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, he worked with cybersecurity products hands-on for more than five years, including password managers, antiviruses, and VPNs and learned everything about their use cases and function. When he isn't working as a "SafetyDetective", he enjoys studying history, researching investment opportunities, writing novels, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends."

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