Apple is a hypocrite in matters of confidentiality ?

“What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone “, was felt Apple in the beginning of the year to boast the privacy standards of its product. A speech repeated by Craig Federighi this week, confirming that the confidentiality is to do more locally :

Most of the time, when it comes to perform tasks of artificial intelligence based on personal information, your terminal is the perfect place to do it : you have a lot of the local context that should never leave your device, to achieve a business of some kind.

And yet, several media outlets have pointed out that many iOS apps, sometimes very popular, such as Angry Birds, share to all-will of personal data with a third party, most often advertisers.

The last article in date is that of the Washington Post, which supports his point with an experiment conducted on one night. ” At 23: 43, a company called Amplitude collection my phone number, my email and my gps. At 3: 58, another called Appboy collects the unique fingerprint of my phone. At 6: 52, a tracker named Demdex receives a way to identify my phone and sends a list of other trackers to associate “, writes the journalist Geoffrey A. Fowler.

Poster advertisement for Apple in Las Vegas at ces 2019. Image Chris Velazco/Engadget.

In short, if you thought that your iPhone rests as you during the night, there is nothing. It communicates with a third party that you know neither from Eve nor from Adam. Isn’t it problematic for a manufacturer who denounces an ” industrial complex “… but that helps to eat at the same time ?

“For data and services created by the applications themselves, the rules of the App Store require developers to publish a clear privacy policy, and to ask users for their permission before collecting the data “, is defending Apple to the Washington Post. ” When we learn that apps don’t follow these rules, we ask them to change their practices, without which we bannissons of the shop. “

These are not words in the air. Last year, Apple has temporarily suspended The Figaro, a kitchen boy, Akinator and other apps in French because they exploited a SDK advertising, Teemo, that does not meet its guidelines. This measure is, however, quite exceptional, and countless apps that do not follow the confidentiality rules operate in peace.

Take The Figaro. Freshly downloaded from the App Store, the app will log queries to a variety of advertising systems (Taboola, Amazon Advertising, DoubleClick…) without asking the user’s permission, or even notify them. To realize this, it is necessary to use an app like Charles Proxy which scans network connections.

This is only one example among others. If only to measure their audience, all the apps of the media (iGeneration including) include trackers. After that, their number and clarity of the information provided to the users depend on each.

“Apple is hypocritical about the confidentiality of the data “, headline in The Atlantic in January (the title has since been softened). Columnist Ian Bogost criticized Apple for not taking drastic measures to stop the collection of personal data, so that it sets himself up as a paragon in the field.

On closer look, there are two weights two measures in the policy of Cupertino. Its approach to privacy for the apps contrast with the one taken to the web, much more proactive. Since iOS 9, Safari allows you to use blockers of content to stop trackers and advertisements on the web sites. Safari also features natively ofprotection against tracking , and Apple is in the process of developing a new system to reduce the means of communication between two sites.

Tools equivalent for iOS apps exist, but their status in the App Store is very precarious. If Charles Proxy sheds light on all the connections have been made by the apps, it does not control them. Privacy Pro, which has been used by the Washington Post for his experimentation, allows you to block the requests of his choice — by default, it blocks all the ad requests, which concretely means that there are more ads in the apps.

Privacy Pro blocks the trackers in all iOS apps.

Only, Apple has blocked the way to an app similar, AdGuard Pro, last year (she is still in the App Store, but its creator can no longer update it). The validation team relied on the rule saying that the apps do not have the right to divert a function of its primary objective, in this case a VPN connection, as well as prohibiting to modify the behavior of other apps. However, it is precisely this that makes Privacy Pro also. Its days are counted ?

Go-getter to defend the privacy on the web, where she has nothing to gain, Apple is conservative on its platform, where she has everything to lose. Tighten seriously screw around trackers that are present in the apps, is taking the risk to affect the large publishers living in the pub (Apple itself has no interest in what you can block advertising within its ecosystem, since the company has introduced in the App Store).

This is not a problem that Cupertino ignores them for as much, but his response is indirect. Rather than strengthen the control on the apps, Apple takes the tangent in launching new paid services that is respectful of the privacy. The confidentiality, it is to be paid.