iPhone and Android users have locked horns on matters of privacy and anonymity. While Apple has had an upper hand so far, two researchers claim that Apple analytics is actively tracking users. Mysk has posted a Twitter thread claiming Apple uses an ID called “dsId” to identify iCloud accounts. Researchers have verified that DSID stands for “Directory Services Identifier” and that Apple is using it to personally identify users.
Apple’s iOS 15 broke the cross-app tracking and advertising models for many companies. It added the “Ask app not to track” button, which specifically cracked down on Facebook’s ad model. However, end users supported Apple’s decision as cross-platform tracking had become a menace. Now, two iOS developers and security researchers have accused Apple of doing the very thing it promised to get rid of.
According to Mysk, Apple’s DSID is associated with a user’s name, email ID, and iCloud account data. Earlier, the researchers also showed how the iPhone keeps sharing detailed analytics with Apple even if the user disables data sharing. Their latest research shows that the App Store uses this identifier when sharing data with Apple. If this is true, it means that Apple knows every user’s activity on the App Store.
Spoiler alert: Apple Analytics is tracking you!
Well, not entirely, but metaphorically, Apple is the kid that asks to bat first because he’s brought the bat for the match. But it doesn’t stop there. Apple also wants to be the bowler and the umpire in this case. Mysk points out an Apple document that says, “none of the collected information identifies to you personally.” However, that set of rules applies only to the data that Apple may share with other companies and developers.
Apple has a different set of rules when it comes to the App Store, Apple News, and other Apple apps. In that document, Apple says that “we use information about your browsing, purchases, searches, and downloads. These records are stored with IP address, a random unique identifier (where that arises), and Apple ID when you are signed in to the App Store or other Apple online stores.”
So, in a nutshell, Apple is tracking its users but is keeping the data to itself. While app tracking transparency and other iOS features offer much privacy and control, users are still not in full control of their Apple devices, as the company would have them believe.
We’ve reached out to Apple for a comment on its practices in collecting and storing IP addresses. We will update this story if we receive a reply on the same.