The average smartphone app harbors 6 different trackers | Cult of Mac

The average smartphone app harbors 6 different trackers


Privacy has been a big deal for Apple for years.
Photo: Apple

Ahead of the launch of the new App Tracking Transparency iOS 14 feature, Apple on Wednesday published a report titled A Day in the Life of Your Data.

It details the “$227 billion-a-year industry” made up of websites, apps, social media companies, data brokers, and more who harvest user personal data for profit — and what Apple is doing about it.

The report is aimed at users who may not be familiar with the way data is gathered about them. It features a number of factoids, such as that:

“Trackers are often embedded in third-party code that helps developers build their apps. By including trackers, developers also allow third parties to collect and link data you have shared with them across different apps and with other data that has been collected about you.”

Trackers are found in most apps

It also notes that the “majority of popular Android and iOS apps” have embedded trackers. The average app, it says, has six different trackers. The report continues that:

“Every hour of every day, billions of digital ads are shown to users online. In the milliseconds it takes an ad to load, a real-time auction takes place, during which advertisers bid on the ad space, often relying on tracked personal data about the individual.”

To put the report in a real-world context, it discusses tracking as relates to two fictitious individuals, “John and his 7-year-old daughter, Emma.” It notes how, for example, there are four apps on John’s phone which collect and track location data during a trip to the playground. As another example:

“On the ride to the playground, John lets his daughter play a game on his tablet. When she opens the app, she sees an ad for a scooter — and that was no accident. In the split second the app loaded, an auction occurred for the ad space. Through intermediaries, the advertising companies working on behalf of the scooter company learned about the available ad. Then, using personal data collected about John and Emma, they bid on the ad. The scooter company’s advertising partners continue to collect information about John and Emma’s behavior after seeing the ad, to determine if they clicked on it, or bought the scooter.”

Apple to the rescue

The report then lays out how Apple’s technology protects users from this unwanted data intrusion. Apple lays out four principles — Data Minimization, User Transparency and Control, On-Device Processing, and Security — which it says are designed to protect users. Apple has long sought to protect user privacy. The report acknowledges this by featuring a Steve Jobs quote on the topic from 2010.

You can check out the A Day in the Life of Your Data report on Apple’s website.

What do you think of Apple’s privacy features? Do you trust Apple to keep your data secure? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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