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Apple’s App Store analytics may be able to identify users

Privacy. That’s iPhone.



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According to security researchers, Apple could identify a user in analytics it collects through a unique identifier that can be linked to a user’s data. iCloud account.

As a privacy-focused company, Apple’s introduction of App tracking transparency, as well as assurances that it would not collect any identifiable data about a user’s usage habits, is supposed to assure users that they are not necessarily being tracked and that their data is monetized in some way. In details dug up by two researchers, it seems that Apple is capable of this.

In a series from Monday tweet, iOS developers Mysk continued to investigate Apple’s systems and discovered an ID in the analytics data called “dsId”. It was later determined that this refers to a “Directory Services Identifier”, which is associated with an iCloud account.

Any DSID can theoretically be linked to an existing iCloud account. If the investigation is correct and Apple has chosen to do so, it will have the corresponding username, email and other details related to the account.

The identifier is included in all analytical data App Store sends to Apple, while other apps do the same. According to Mysk, this means that “your detailed behavior when browsing apps in the App Store is sent to Apple and includes the ID needed to associate the data with you.”

Mysk points out that Apple’s own Device analytics and privacy statement states “None of the information collected personally identifies you”, which is characterized as “inaccurate”.

Apple has previously and publicly claimed that it is not in the business of selling user data, also explaining how it uses data in its advertising platforms. This includes claims that its advertising platform does not associate user or device data with data collected from third parties for targeted advertising, and that it does not share user device or device identifiers with data collection companies.

Despite claims that it doesn’t sell data and that it works to anonymize data used by customers of its advertising platform, the problem here is that Apple could still potentially use the identifiable data for its own purposesand that there is evidence that it is able to collect identifiable data.

AppleInsider has contacted Apple for comment.

An attempt on November 12 class action pack against Apple came forward claiming that Apple is violating the user’s right to privacy because it knows what users are looking at in the App Strore. That lawsuit was based on research from Mysk, but at the time the researchers could not verify what data was sent in iOS 16 due to the use of encryption.

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