Apple monitors your iPhone usage to assign you a ‘trust score’

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Apple is watching to be sure your device is really being used by you, and has begun giving each an iPhone trust score.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

In an attempt to prevent fraudulent purchases from the iTunes Store, Apple has begun giving each iOS device a “trust score.” Exactly how this is computed isn’t known, but one of the factors is how many phone calls and emails are sent and received by the phone or tablet.

Despite the laudable goal of preventing fraud, an iPhone trust score is something likely to raise the hackles of privacy advocates. Still, Apple promises that it’s not tracking its users.

The company updated the iTunes Store’s privacy statement with the following:

“To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase. The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers.”

How the iPhone trust score is used

Apple hasn’t revealed exactly how the iPhone trust score is computed, perhaps to prevent fraudsters from coming up with a work-around. Possibly, the company is taking note of typical usage patterns, including how frequently emails or phone calls are made. A change in that pattern could be an indication that the phone is no longer being controlled by its real owner.

Apple assured The Sun that it’s not tracking who people are communicating with, just how many calls and emails are being sent. And the company promises it doesn’t store this data long term. The score isn’t a unique identifier that can be used to serve targeted ads. 

It’s not possible to find out what your device trust score is.

Apple and privacy

The iPhone maker was recent asked to answer a range of questions about its privacy policies. A preamble to its responses noted “We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data. When we do collect data, we’re transparent about it and work to disassociated from the user.”

It’s an area where Apple differs from other high-tech firms.