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Apple promised that the data collected by iPhones is anonymous, but new research suggests otherwise. The analytics data includes an ID number connected to your name, email and phone numberā€”information Apple said would be untraceable.

A recent study showed that even though Apple explicitly states they do not collect user data, their iPhone tests prove otherwise.

The privacy policy surrounding Apple device analytics claims that “none of the collected information can be traced back to you personally.” 

According to researchers from the software company Mysk, data sent to Apple includes a permanent, unchangeable ID number called a Directory Services Identifier (DSID). According to Mysk’s tests, the DSID is directly connected to your full name, phone number, birth date and email address through Apple ID.

“Knowing the DSID is similar to knowing your name,” said Tommy Mysk, an app developer and security researcher. “It is a one-to-one correspondence with your identity,” he continued while running the test with his partner Talal Haj Bakry. “You won’t be able to escape these analytics- there’s no way to switch it off.”

The findings reinforce recent discoveries about Apple’s privacy problems and broken promises. Last month, Mysk discovered that even if you switch off the “Share iPhone Analytics’ setting

Apple still collects analytics information. This contradicts what Apple’s website says- that this action will “disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.” 

Days after Gizmodo published Mysk’s findings; a class action lawsuit was filed against Apple for allegedly lying to its consumers about the problem.

The most recent discovery by Mysk shows that while Apple is tracking you closely, they are also taking steps to ensure you cannot see what data they are collecting. The DSID number is not displayed in the device settings or any other app within the iPhone. However, researchers got this information and more with just a few clicks.

After identifying the DSID, Mysk and his team developed a script to extract data from Apple’s servers using the ID number. This information included detailed logs of app usage, clickstreams and more. In fact, according to their research, they determined precisely how much time users spent using which apps and websites.

While Apple claims its data is anonymous, Mysk and Bakry have proved otherwise. Most of the information being gathered is directly related to you as an individual- such as where you live and work. This kind of information can be used against users by companies and hackers. For instance, it could be used by employers or insurance companies in criminal cases.

While Apple insists that the data collected cannot be traced back to you as an individual, Bakry and Mysk are still determining. “The information can be used to link a specific device to the owner of that device,” said Bakry. “This is done by cross-referencing the DSID with publicly available data such as phone numbers and email addresses associated with a specific Apple ID.”

If you are concerned about your privacy, you should protect yourself from apps recording your activity. One option is to use an app blocker or firewall that can prevent apps from tracking you in the first place. This is an excellent way to keep yourself safe and devices like your iPhone.

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