Your iPhone Is Tracking You, Even If You Ask It To Stop: Hidden Privacy Dangers Found Lurking In Apple’s Default Apps

By Study Finds

When you unbox that shiny new iPhone or sleek MacBook, you’re probably eager to dive right in and start exploring. But before you get too carried away, there’s something you should know: those pre-installed apps that come with your device might not be as innocent as they seem. A startling new study by researchers Amel Bourdoucen and Janne Lindqvist from Aalto University in Finland is pulling back the curtain on the privacy implications of Apple’s default apps like Safari, Siri, iMessage, and Find My.

What they discovered is enough to make even the most dedicated Apple fan think twice.

Let’s start with the basics. When you first set up your iPhone or MacBook, you’re greeted by a friendly setup wizard that guides you through enabling various features and apps. Things like Siri, Apple’s helpful virtual assistant, or Find My, a handy tool for locating lost devices. Seems harmless enough, right?

Not so fast. The researchers found that the privacy settings for these default apps are often misleading or downright confusing. Take Siri, for example. When prompted during setup, you can choose to enable Siri or “Set Up Later in Settings.” You might reasonably assume that means Siri is off until you manually turn it on. But in reality, Siri is still collecting data from your apps even when disabled. It’s like a nosy neighbor who keeps peeking through your blinds even after you’ve asked them to stop.

And it’s not just Siri. The study revealed that many of the privacy settings for default apps are scattered across multiple menus, often in places you wouldn’t think to look. Some settings aren’t even mentioned in Apple’s official documentation. It’s like playing a frustrating game of hide-and-seek with your own personal data.

But what exactly are these apps collecting, you might wonder? The researchers compiled a list, and it’s enough to make your head spin. Safari, Apple’s default web browser, can scoop up your IP address, browsing history, and even sensitive info like your payment methods. Siri hoards data from your contacts, your music preferences, and the names of your devices. iMessage and FaceTime can access things like your call logs and the apps you use. The list goes on and on.

Now, you might be thinking, “Okay, but I can just go into my settings and turn all this off, right?” Well, it’s not quite that simple. The study found that even when users thought they had disabled data sharing for an app, their information was still being collected behind the scenes. It’s like trying to break up with a clingy ex who just won’t take the hint.

The implications of all this are particularly worrying when it comes to features like Family Sharing. This lets you share things like locations and purchases with other family members, which can be convenient. But it can also open up a whole can of worms when it comes to privacy. Do you really want your teenage kid knowing your every move? Or your spouse seeing every app you’ve ever downloaded? These headaches can add to tension in a household, researchers suggest.

So what can be done about all this? The researchers have some suggestions. For one, they argue that Apple needs to be much more transparent about what data their apps are collecting and how users can control it. No more burying settings in obscure menus or using confusing language. They also recommend giving users clear prompts and reminders about their privacy choices, rather than just a one-and-done setup process.

At the end of the day, it’s up to all of us to be proactive about protecting our digital privacy. That means taking the time to understand what our devices and apps are really doing, and not just blindly clicking “agree” to every prompt. It means advocating for better privacy protections and holding tech giants like Apple accountable.

Because as convenient as that iPhone in your pocket or that MacBook on your desk might be, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your privacy. In the age of Big Data, it’s more important than ever to stay informed and stay vigilant. Your devices may be smart, but with a little knowledge and effort, you can be smarter.

Source: Study Finds

StudyFinds sets out to find new research that speaks to mass audiences — without all the scientific jargon. The stories we publish are digestible, summarized versions of research that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate.

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