Apple iPhone secretly monitors personal data

Tags: Apple, iPhone

After all the restrictions that Steve Jobs has imposed on the owners of Apple iPhone, now it turns out that Apple is probably secretly collecting personal data from any iPhone.

A power user has found bits of code in the iPhone, that may collect and send personal data, such as IMEI, IP address, and companies you are interested in, to an Apple server via the Weather and Stocks applications. The sent information however is encrypted, so it is not that sure whether it holds the IMEI code of your iPhone. Some experienced users have already reverted the code so that it sends zeroes only. Data monitoring could provide valuable information of how many iPhones have been unlocked, how they are distributed around the world and also for studying user preferences and habits, for example.

Just before you put your tin foil hat on, remember that Apple have stated that " when you interact with Apple, we may collect personal information relevant to the situation, such as your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, and contact preferences; your credit card information and information about the Apple products you own, such as their serial numbers and date of purchase; and information relating to a support or service issue." Regardless the legitimate issue of the case, it is definitely immoral for any company to collect personal information in such a secretive manner. Lately, Steve Jobs has been accumulating lots of negativism concerning the iPhone. The latest hot topic was the prosecution of all owners of sites with a domain name including iPhone in it, which led to a spirit of high discontent among the internet society.

The other hot news on behalf of the iPhone, announced by some major news sources, concerns the German unit of Vodafone Group, which has obtained a court order against Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile mobile carrier stating that the German telecommunications giant should start selling unlocked versions of the iPhone in Germany. Deutsche Telekom is selling the iPhone exclusively in Germany along with a mandatory 2-year contract and as such is accused of misuse sales practices. Specifically, Vodafone is questioning the iPhone's exclusive use in T-Mobile's network and the use of the device being limited to certain fees within T- Mobile's subscription offerings. A T-Mobile spokesman has confirmed that the restraining order will be disputed by the respondent.

Update 21 Nov: Point taken, iPhone isn't actually sending IMEI to the Apple web site. In the IMEI parameter it sends encoded data, identifying the application used, not the device, which runs it. However, not all iPhones are sending the same data, so yes, it can be used for some kind of tracking. Here's a list of different IMEI values, obtained here.


Now, this may not be a tin foil hat case, but it's hardly a night cap either. The fact that iPhone is accessing the Apple web site without its owner knowing is upsetting per se. It can be used for tracking, because the Apple web server knows your IP, which is to say your country and your approximate location. Besides, who knows what the IMEI will be carrying come the next iPhone firmware.




Apple iPhone secretly monitors personal data - reader comments

  • Jacob

sad truth. apple has been strict about sharing it products, technology, and services, that's why its old computer models failed. If apple had dominated the computer world back then, computers would still be very expensive, no clones will exist, softw...

  • Reply
  • 2007-12-15 11:19
  • PRQf
  • Anonymous

I can't believe Steve Jobs would do this!!!YOu're a terrible person Mr.Jobs!!! YOu stay way from my children!!

  • Reply
  • 2007-11-29 09:39
  • 4TAw
  • frappe

not expected this from cannot take people for a ride by good looks & fancy innovations.... one needs to buy a product only after its time tested......

  • Reply
  • 2007-11-24 17:30
  • 2F6E