Apple might find itself in a situation similar to that which Google and Facebook faced recently over user privacy concerns. While the company claimed that they do not share user data collected through apps, a new report by the Washington Post stated otherwise.
All the apps that one runs on iPhones and iPads use a feature called Background App Refresh which allows developers to keep the app functioning, find new updates and also refresh the content within to keep it updated. While the idea is to make the apps more useful, it is being reported that developers have been abusing this feature to share users’ personal information to companies that track them.
The personal info of a large number of users who use iOS devices are being shared with third-party companies but, without notifying the users that this is being done. Apple has always projected itself as ethical as far as customer data is concerned. While one of the biggest brands in the world – Facebook, faced a massive backlash for leaking millions of user data, Apple promoted itself as a firm that never shared anything of the customer that is stored in their iPhones.
Hacking into phones and acquiring user data is no longer considered a threat as companies already share information illegally behind the back, that most users are unaware of. Third party apps have always posed a big threat to iOS and Android throughout their existence. App developers often misuse the smartphone processing capability by subtly running mining apps, that share the information collected from a phone including its model, bank accounts that one may have and many other details.
While sensitive information such as passwords does remain secure on the iPhones, giving out user data, in the long run, can cause lots of privacy issues. According to the report, people have complained that different companies named Appboy, Demdex and Amplitude have gained access to users’ phone numbers, e-mail address and even their digital fingerprint which can be used against them. Apple has to be very careful with what is being shared.
The information available for third party companies may not immediately pose a threat as they are under contract and Apple provides a lot of this information in their terms and conditions. However, in the long run, when they accumulate large amounts of data including users’ contact details and even sensitive info such as fingerprints, it could lead to a massive data breach. If only Apple would work on revising the terms and avoid third parties from sharing information, it will create a safer environment for iOS users.
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