Your iPhone is harvesting your user data even when it shouldn't

iPhone 14 Pro lifestyle
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple faces a new class action lawsuit over claims that some of its apps track how people use them despite being told not to.

The lawsuit, filed in California, is based on research that shows the App Store and other apps collect usage data including which apps are tapped on, what ads people see, and more. This happens even when users turn off 'iPhone Analytics.' Such a move should prevent all tracking from happening. Researchers say that it doesn't.

Privacy matters

The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act, with plaintiff Elliot Libman pointing to Apple's privacy-first advertising as an example that it should do better. “Privacy is one of the main issues that Apple uses to set its products apart from competitors,” Libman says.

Gizmodo reports that 'iPhone Analytics' claims to “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether” when turned off, but researchers at Mysk found that wasn't the case. In fact, the App Store wasn't the only app up to no good. While the Health and Wallet apps don't collect data that they shouldn't, the same can't be said for the Stocks, Music, TV, Books, and other apps.

In the case of the Stocks app, it was found that Apple was able to see which stocks people watch, the names of any stocks that were viewed or searched for, and even timestamps for when they did it.

“Through its pervasive and unlawful data tracking and collection business, Apple knows even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing aspects of the user’s app usage—regardless of whether the user accepts Apple’s illusory offer to keep such activities private,” the lawsuit said.

While privacy has long been one of the best iPhone features, no matter how intangible, reports like this may give more ammunition to those who accuse Apple of failing to follow along with its own rules.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.