App Tracking? Sure, Why Not?

May 4, 2022

Big tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple, are supposed to cut back on the amount of data they collect from users via apps. Despite the lip service to users, apps are still collecting data and it appears these companies will not stop anytime soon. Daiji World explains how much data apps are still gathering in: “Apps Still tracking Users’ Data On Apple App Store.”

A University of Oxford research term investigated 1759 Apple IOS apps in the United Kingdom App Store. The team monitored these apps before and after Apple implemented new tracking policies that supposedly make it harder to track users. Unfortunately, these apps are still tracking users as well as collecting user fingerprinting. The team found hard evidence of user tracking:

“The researchers found real-world evidence of apps computing a mutual fingerprinting-derived identifier through the use of “server-side code” — a violation of Apple’s new policies and highlighting the limits of Apple’s enforcement power as a privately-owned data protection regulator. ‘Indeed, Apple itself engages in some forms of user tracking and exempts invasive data practices like first-party tracking and credit scoring from its new privacy rules,’ claimed Konrad Kollnig, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford.”

Apple’s Privacy Nutrition Labels are also inaccurate and are in direct conflict with Apple’s marketing claims. It is a disappointment that Apple is purposely misleading its users. Enforcing user privacy laws is sporadic, and tech companies barely follow what they set for themselves. Apple has its own OS, so they have a closed technology domain that they control:

“ ‘Apple’s privacy efforts are hampered by its closed-source philosophy on iOS and the opacity around its enforcement of its App Store review policies. These decisions by Apple remain an important driver behind limited transparency around iOS privacy,” [the research team] emphasised.”

Does this come as a surprise for anyone? Nope.

Apple can d whatever it wants because it is a prime technology company and it develops everything in-house. The only way to enforce privacy laws is transparency, but Apple will not become crystal clear because it will mean the company will lose profits.

Whitney Grace, May 4, 2022


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