Wednesday, November 23, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple’s Device Analytics Can Identify iCloud Users

Tommy Mysk (Hacker News):

Apple’s analytics data include an ID called “dsId”. We were able to verify that “dsId” is the “Directory Services Identifier”, an ID that uniquely identifies an iCloud account. Meaning, Apple’s analytics can personally identify you[…]

Apple states in their Device Analytics & Privacy statement that the collected data does not identify you personally. This is inaccurate. We also showed earlier that the #AppStore keeps sending detailed analytics to Apple even when sharing analytics is switched off.

Sami Fathi:

On Apple’s device analytics and privacy legal page, the company says no information collected from a device for analytics purposes is traceable back to a specific user. “iPhone Analytics may include details about hardware and operating system specifications, performance statistics, and data about how you use your devices and applications. None of the collected information identifies you personally,” the company claims.

[…]

Apple has historically taken a hard stance on user privacy, repeatedly claiming it believes privacy is a “fundamental human right.” Apple’s privacy claims have been under increasing scrutiny in recent months, with the company now facing a class action lawsuit accusing it of tracking users without their consent.

Nick Heer (Hacker News):

Apple also refers to the DSID by other names, such as the “Apple User Account Identifier”, “Apple ID Number”, “Apple ID Reference Number”, and “Original Unique Identifier”. Based on my 2021 data request it is, as described, a proxy for a specific Apple ID. It identifies you with Apple’s services, including for things like marketing and communications efforts. I have a spreadsheet of the nearly nine hundred times me and my DSID ignored Apple’s attempts to upsell me on Apple One, a service which launched just thirteen months before I made this data request. I also have a list of all the times I contacted AppleCare and the same identifier is attached.

[…]

The researchers point to Apple’s Device Analytics & Privacy document where it says in the iOS Device Analytics section that “[n]one of the collected information identifies you personally”. But this does not pertain to Apple’s services which are covered by entirely different policies. Both the App Store and Apple Music say usage information is collected. These are not device analytics, they are services analytics.

[…]

In fairness, perhaps the Device Analytics toggle in Settings should be worded more clearly to indicate that turning it off will not opt out of store and services activity. I am also shocked by the granularity of information in these storefront analytics. It is relevant to Apple’s recommendation engine if I listened to an album or song and whether I finished it, but it is hard to see what value it has in knowing my track playback to the millisecond. I also think the identifier used by Apple’s services should be different than the Apple ID that is correlated with your device purchase history and support requests.

Ruffin Bailey:

That at first seems mostly like fair game info, doesn’t it? But if you say “I don’t want anyone tracking me,” I can understand why you don’t want and, what’s more, wouldn’t expect all of that pushed up into the pipe. As a developer, it’d be nice if Apple had to ask for that info the same as anyone else.

It certainly fails the Steve Jobs test:

Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly.

See also: Bruce Schneier, TidBITS Talk, Florian Mueller.

Previously:

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