Apple may have made changes to prevent users from being tracked without their knowledge, but a new lawsuit alleges the company still is compiling data on people.
A class action lawsuit filed in California on Nov. 10 claims the tech giant is violating state law by illegally collecting user information through apps without consent, calling it "a huge and growing treasure trove of data that Apple amasses and uses for its own profit." Although the company has told people it is making changes to let people opt in to tracking, it still collects the information even if they say no, the lawsuit continues.
"But Apple's assurances and promises regarding privacy are utterly false," the lawsuit said. "Apple records, tracks, collects and monetizes analytics data—including browsing history and activity information—regardless of what safeguards or 'privacy settings' consumers undertake to protect their privacy."
The lawsuit claims that a team of iOS developers and security researchers at software firm Mysk found Apple was collecting user behavior from inside one of its own apps. Furthermore, when the user turned off "Allow Apps to Request to Track" and "Share iPhone Analytics" options, Apple could still access the data.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
"They're definitely tracking your data," said Adam Gonzales, CEO of security consulting firm Hyperion Services. "There is no such thing as 100 percent privacy and security when it comes to smartphones. What this lawsuit alleges, there's truth to it: Apple may be unduly reassuring users of a level of privacy."
While most corporations may be aware of smartphone tracking abilities, the average consumer may not be knowledgeable about what is being collected. Gonzales recommends being cautious about which apps you download. Free apps come at a cost, he explained.
"The difference between a free app and a paid app is you're going to be a little more secure on a paid app," Gonzales said. "The reason is if these companies are creating a free app that is offering a great solution to solve some of your problems, as a consumer that cost is all of your data. You just essentially signed over your privacy rights to that company."
While this lawsuit is unlikely to fix anything from a privacy standpoint, Gonazles hopes people become more conscious about how their information gets shared.
"People just need to be more aware of what they're giving up every time they go to download something for free," he said. "Or, if a secure device is something that you're interested in, off-the-shelf devices from Apple, Samsung, and Google aren't the route."