Android, iOS beam telemetry to Google, Apple even when you tell them not to – study


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Oct 9, 2016

Search giant insists it's necessary, iTitan didn't have anything to say​

Android and iOS phones transmit telemetry back to Google and Apple, even when users have chosen not to send analytics data.

In a recent released research paper, titled "Mobile Handset Privacy: Measuring The Data iOS and Android Send to Apple And Google" [PDF], Douglas Leith, chairman of computer systems in the school of computer science and statistics at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, documents how iPhones and Android devices phone home regardless of the wishes of their owners.

According to Leith, Android and iOS handsets share data about their salient characteristics with their makers every 4.5 minutes on average.

"The phone IMEI, hardware serial number, SIM serial number and IMSI, handset phone number etc are shared with Apple and Google," the paper says. "Both iOS and Google Android transmit telemetry, despite the user explicitly opting out of this."

These transmissions occur even when the iOS Analytics & Improvements option is turned off and the Android Usage & Diagnostics option is turned off.

Such data may be considered personal information under privacy rules, depending upon the applicable laws and whether they can be associated with an individual. It can also have legitimate uses.

Of the two mobile operating systems, Android is claimed to be the more chatty: According to Leith, "Google collects a notably larger volume of handset data than Apple."

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Level 17
Nov 9, 2022
Summary of what is shared, confirms my "privacy is a lost cause" attitude (although I disable as much as I can on my Android phone and Windows desktop)

On the plus side: to be able to locate your device ("find my device" anti-theft option), some telemetry has to be send all the time. So don't be to quick to condemn Apple, Microsoft, Google and Samsung and Meta (whats app) Oh yes I forgot on on my Samsung Android phone I have more uninvited guests on the back seat all the time (check your account synchronization options :) )
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