It’s no secret that even on iOS, apps can collect your data. One way they do this is by using Background App Refresh (via The Washington Post).
Background Data Collection
Partnering with Disconnect, a company that offers privacy services like a VPN, Geoffrey Fowler found out what kind of data apps collected from his iPhone.
They include such data like:
- Phone number
- Email address
Your iPhone doesn’t sleep. During Mr. Fowler’s testing, he found over a dozen marketing companies, research firms, and others collected data during the night.
On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with.
Some of these apps included Yelp (which claimed it was a bug), Microsoft’s OneDrive, Intuit’s Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Weather Channel, and ironically even The Washington Post’s app. It doesn’t just happen during the night, either. Over a week they found 5,400 trackers on the iPhone, mostly in apps. Over a month, if the same amount of tracking stayed the same, the data sent would’ve been about 1.5 GB.
You can find the setting for Background App Refresh by going to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. This won’t completely stop the trackers, but they won’t be able to work in the background anymore. They will only work when you actively use the app.