iphone held in hand
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 13, 2024 ·  4 min read

Apple sued for tracking users’ activity even when turned off in settings

Are you an iPhone user concerned about your privacy? If so, you’ve likely changed your settings to not allow for any data or analytics information sharing whatsoever. Unfortunately, these two California residents have found that despite that, Apple has still been collecting your data, anyways. Now they are filing a lawsuit against the company for the breach of trust.

Apple Is Collecting Your Data No Matter What Your Settings Are

In recent years, Apple has been pretty outspoken about companies and how they are collecting and using user data, such as Meta, the company that owns Facebook. Turns out, this was all just talk, as Apple has been doing pretty much the same thing to its own users. Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, two app developers and independent researchers, found that no matter how you configure your privacy settings, Apple is still collecting your data. That’s even if you select “disable to sharing of device analytics altogether”. They are doing so in their first-party apps, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks. (1)

Mysk and Bakry found that Apple harvests information about everything you did within those apps. This includes what you click on, search for, the ads you see, how you found the app, and how long you spend looking at these apps. Again, this happened regardless of whether or not you set your privacy settings to that which is supposed to prevent that sharing from occurring. 

“Opting-out or switching the personalization options off did not reduce the amount of detailed analytics that the app was sending,” Mysk said. “I switched all the possible options off, namely personalized ads, personalized recommendations, and sharing usage data and analytics.” 

It’s All App Dependent

Mysk and Bakry found that not all apps share data, regardless of your privacy settings. The Health and Wallet apps, for example, don’t send Apple any data at all. This is regardless of whether or not you have all the privacy settings activated or none of them at all. The apps that do share, however, typically share consistent ID numbers so that they can track your activity across all of its services.

To better understand how they track you, we’ll look at the specifics of the Stocks app. The app sent your list of watched stocks to Apple, as well as the names of the stocks you either looked at or searched for. Not only that, but it sent Apple data on the time of day you were viewing and searching for these stocks and any new articles that you may have seen or read inside the app.

All Apple Phones Do This

The pair of researchers checked their work on two different phones: A jailbroken iPhone running in iOS 14.6, as well as a regular iPhone running on the newest operating system, iOS 16. They did this because iOS 14.5 is the operating system in which Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency. From iOS 14.5 and onwards, the system asks users whether or not they want to share their data in individual apps with the prompting question “Ask App Not To Track?”. No matter what kind of iPhone you have and what the operating system, Apple is harvesting your data whether you’ve tried to prevent it or not.

Why Is This Important?

Some people don’t see what the big deal is about companies having access to data about how you use their products and services. For some, however, knowing that a company has access to potentially sensitive information can be highly unsettling. For example, if you are looking at apps related to addiction, mental health, religion, or sexual orientation. The other issue is that we don’t know how Apple uses that data or for what purpose they are collecting it. Sure, you can state the obvious, which is targeted advertising, but we don’t know if that’s the only thing. That in itself is upsetting for many people who feel as though they are being tracked or their information is being exploited against their will and for unknown reasons.

The Lawsuit

Mysk and Bakry have decided to file a lawsuit against Apple because of what they found. The lawsuit isn’t about what kind of information they are collecting or even about the fact that they are collecting the data at all. What the lawsuit is against is the fact that Apple is telling you that you can and have selected that they cannot collect or share any information from you, and yet they are still doing it. Essentially, they are lying to you.

“The data Apple surreptitiously collects is precisely the type of private, personal information consumers wish and expect to protect when they take the steps Apple sets out for users to control the private information Apple collects,” the complaint states. “…There is no justification for Apple’s secret, misleading, and unauthorized recording and collection of consumers’ private communications and app activity.” (2)

The lawsuit is filed in California, stating that Apple is in breach of the California Invasion of Privacy Act. (3) They are looking to have the lawsuit certified as a class action and seek compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages in addition to other similar monetary relief. Though small, this lawsuit could have a big impact on Apple if found to be correct.

Keep Reading: Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026


  1. Apple Is Tracking You Even When Its Own Privacy Settings Say It’s Not, New Research Says.” Gizmodo. Thomas Germain. November 8, 2022.
  2. Apple faces new lawsuit over its data collection practices in first-party apps, like the App Store.” Techcrunch. Sarah Perez . November 2022.
  3. Apple sued for tracking users’ activity even when turned off in settings.” Mashable. November 14, 2022.