“At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right and is essential in everything we do. From the outset, the declaration is made, proudly, and the principle posed, clearly, during the press presentation given earlier this week by Apple.
The company announces the organization of specific training workshops on this topic in its Apple Stores. Training that is added to the list of courses provided by Apple, and usually devoted to photography, video, or even drawing, on Apple tools.
From January 28, on the occasion of European Data Protection Day, a workshop called “Manage privacy on your iPhone” is to be offered in, excuse me, all Apple Stores around the world.
This course, free and lasting half an hour, aims to familiarize or improve the knowledge of users to the internal settings of the iPhone. Enough to reinforce confidentiality when they use their e-mail box, for example, but also to limit or suspend the potential location requested by certain applications. Or even block advertising tracking carried out by other apps. “This session is available worldwide in 522 stores” proudly assures a spokesperson for the brand.
In France, this training will be provided in the 20 Apple Stores in France.
Apple therefore takes full advantage of this vast network of physical stores, which it is moreover the only company among the GAFAM to have, to maintain proximity with its customers or future customers (those who do not have an iPhone will be able to to be lent one) and to sow the idea that it washes whiter in terms of respect for private life.
A major glitch?
In early November 2022, developer and security researcher Tommy Mysk, already known for spotting flaws in iOS VPN apps, launched on Twitter the result of an unflattering study for Apple. “Recent changes made by Apple in advertising within [la boutique d’applications] App Store should raise a lot of privacy concerns, he wrote in his Nov. 4 tweet. It looks like the AppStore app in iOS 14.6 tells Apple every keystroke you make in the app. This data is sent in a single request, even when the use of data and personalized ads are turned off.
This monitoring of user data by Apple, if proven, would therefore allow them to be sent targeted advertisements when they pass through the iOS application store, but also on Apple Music, Apple TV or even its Stock Exchange app.
A practice that would be at odds with the rule that Apple itself sets for developers of third-party applications. Indeed, since the implementation of its App Tracking Transparency process, introduced in April 2021 with iOS 14.5, the user has the right to refuse one by one the requests for access and monitoring of private data made by the apps.
Enough to pull the rug out from under the feet of app publishers, advertisers, but also social networks like Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg highlighting in his latest financial communications the hole in his fund caused by this new practice.
But beyond a potential distortion of competition that Apple’s competitors should not fail to raise in the coming months, this user monitoring, if true, would show the poor use that the Apple brand makes its statements in favor of the privacy of its customers. Not to mention the questions about the consent to the collection of its data imposed under the GDPR.
If Mysk’s accusation, which relates to a version of iOS dating back about a year and a half, is founded, it also remains to be seen whether this data collection is still relevant with the current version (16.3 ) of Apple’s operating system?
Asked about the Mysk affair by ZDNET, Apple said, unsurprisingly, not to comment.
A few days after the publication of Mysk, a new lawsuit in the form of a class action was filed in California against Apple for illegally harvesting activity from its customers through its apps. Two other complaints of the same nature, one in Pennsylvania and the other in New York, have been made since January. If there is a lawsuit, Apple should be more forthcoming.