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Apple’s App Store may have been tracking every tap you make since iOS 14.6

Updated Nov 7th, 2022 2:03PM EST
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Apple calls privacy a “fundamental human right.” Every year, the company introduces new privacy features to help users not be tracked. One of the most controversial and also essential functions is called App Tracking Transparency, in which users need to consent to whether an app can or cannot track them. But it seems even with Apple protecting users from third-party apps, the company can’t save them from itself, as it seems Apple has been tracking every tap you make on the App Store at least since iOS 14.6.

According to two developers, with iOS 14.6, Apple sends every tap a user makes on the App Store to itself – even with data usage and personalized ads off.

The Mysk developers say “as the user browses the App Store app, detailed usage data is sent to Apple simultaneously. The data contains IDs to map the behavior to a profile. Data shown in the video is 152KB.” They call “the level of details” Apple collects “too much even if the user consented to share analytics data with Apple.”

Two interesting points are that a prior version of iOS 14.6, iOS 14.5, introduced the App Tracking Transparency feature – explained above – and currently, Apple sees itself in the middle of a controversy as it wants to expand ads across the iOS system.

A few weeks ago, Apple started to suggest more ads on the Apple Store. That said, developers complained that even educational children apps had gambling apps showing as related applications. After a few days, the company pulled out these ads and hasn’t announced what’s the next step.

Mysk developers say it’s unclear whether Apple is still collecting App Store analytics data in iOS 16, but since this is not related to an iOS update, and is more of a server-side choice, it looks like this could be used for the company’s own analytics team and also to run its business ads on the App Store with developers, by, for example, saying if the paid ad of an app works.

It’s also important to note that while Apple collecting data from users seems sketchy due to its campaign on privacy, this is different from App Tracking Transparency, which tries to stop third-party companies to know personal information you didn’t share with them. In Apple’s case, you’re technically using its products (the App Store) and this data wouldn’t be shared with third-party companies.

BGR reached out to Apple and will update the story once we hear from them.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.