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Study: Smartphones share data every 4 1/2 minutes with manufacturers

Based on a report published by the Irish Times, researchers from Trinity College Dublin claim that there is very little difference between Apple and Google when it comes to collecting certain data.
Study: Smartphones share data every 4 1/2 minutes with manufacturers
File photo: Pixel and iPhone

Smartphones share data every 4 1/2 minutes with manufacturers

The new study showed that Android and iPhone smartphones share with their respective companies on average every 4 1/2 minutes and these data are being sent back even when idle in a pocket or handbag.

The study also noted that Google handsets collected "a notably larger volume of handset data than Apple" with 1MB of data being sent from idle on Google Pixel handsets every 12 hours compared with the 52
kB from iPhone.

The data potentially sent back were the insertion of SIM and handset details including hardware serial number, IMEI, WiFi, MAC address, and phone number.

I think most people accept that Apple and Google need to collect data from our phones to provide services such as iCloud or Google Drive. But when we simply use our phones as phones – to make and receive calls and nothing more – it is much harder to see why Apple and Google need to collect data, said Prof Leith

The WiFi MAC address identifies a device on a WiFi network and so, for example, uniquely identifies your home router, cafe hotspot or office network. That means Apple can potentially track which people you are near to, as well as when and where. That's very concerning.

Google said that this research outlines how smartphones work.

Modern cars regularly send basic data about vehicle components, their safety status and service schedules to car manufacturers, and mobile phones work in very similar ways. This report details those communications, which help ensure that iOS or Android software is up to date, services are working as intended, and that the phone is secure and running efficiently.

Apple has yet to comment.

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