BusinessTechnology

iPhone Collects and Transmits Large Amounts of Data While You Sleep

2
Apple says, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” Our privacy experiment showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled our data — in a single week.
Apple says, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” Our privacy experiment showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled our data — in a single week.

iPhone is unsurprisingly active in the middle of the night, according to a report by Washington Post Technology writer, Geoffrey Fowler.

Fowler tracked his iPhone’s activity recently, finding that dozens of companies were receiving information at all hours.

On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with.
And all night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address -— once every five minutes.

Washington Post

Also, Fowler noticed the irony of a January Apple advertisement which claimed “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” Hilarious, right?

iPhone apps which pass massive amounts of information in the middle of the night include Microsoft OneDrive, Intuit’s Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Washington Post and IBM’s the Weather Channel. “One app, the crime-alert service Citizen, shared personally identifiable information in violation of its published privacy policy,” Fowler notes.

With the help of privacy firm DisconnectFowler encountered over 5,400 trackers in just one week – mostly within apps, that send his information to third party companies. Over the course of a month, the unwanted trackers were on track to upload 1.5 gigabytes of data.

App Trackers are akin to the cookies used on websites that monitor and report your activity around the internet. In apps, however, there’s virtually no notice that this is happening, and they’re difficult to block.

So why do the trackers activate in the middle of the night? Some appmakers set them to harvest data whenever the phone is plugged in, or they think it won’t interfere with other functions. According to Fowler, “These late-night encounters happen on the iPhone if you have allowed “background app refresh,” which is Apple’s default.”

'What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone' Apple privacy billboard in Las Vegas
‘What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone’ Apple privacy billboard in Las Vegas

Citizen, the app for location-based crime reporting, said in their privacy policy that they wouldn’t share “your name or other personally identifying information.” When Fowler ran his test, however, he found that “it repeatedly sent my phone number, email and exact GPS coordinates to the tracker Amplitude.” 

It was only after Citizen was contacted about this that they removed the Amplitude tracker.

“We will do a better job of making sure our privacy policy is clear about the specific types of data we share with providers like these,” said Citizen spokesman J. Peter Donald, who added “We do not sell user data. We never have and never will.”

Baltimore: NSA tool used in ransomware attack

Previous article

Boeing says potential wing problems in some 737 aircraft

Next article

You may also like

More in Business