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Android shares 20x more data to Google than iOS to Apple, study finds

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A recent study by a computer science professor at Trinity College of Dublin reveals that Android devices collect and share 20x more data to Google than iOS does to Apple.

Professor Doug Leith, who is also the chair of computer systems in Trinity College, said that both Android and iOS — two of the biggest mobile operating systems globally — continuously collect and send telemetry data back to their respective parent companies, Google and Android.

This information includes activities from inserting a SIM card to interacting with apps and hardware.

This type of data collection is being done even when the user is not logged in, the device on idle, or even if the user didn’t allow the system to collect data.

Leith discovered that iOS shares information that relates to hardware serial number, IMEI, phone number, SIM serial number, UDID and ad ID, telemetry, location, cookies, local IP address, and even nearby WiFi Mac addresses.

These are the same data that Android also collects and sends, but with the addition of device WiFi MAC addresses without tapping a device’s location, local IP address, and nearby WiFi MAC addresses.

As per Leith, the highlight here is the amount of data being collected. His research revealed that Android sends around 1MB of data to Google upon startup, while iOS only sends about 42KB worth of data to Apple.

When on idle, Android sends another 1MB every 12 hours, while iOS is only about 52Kb. In the United States, the study estimates that Google harvests 1.3TB data from users every 12 hours, while Apple is only around 5.8GB.

Leith did the test by doing a factory reset on the device. From there, he measured the collected data from when he inserted a SIM card was inserted or removed when the device is on idle, when the settings menu was viewed, when the location was turned on or off, and when the user logged in to the app store.

In his testing, Leith used a Google Pixel 2 running on Android 10 and an unknown iPhone model with iOS 13.6.1, which was jailbroken for the measurement to work.

In a statement, Google claims that the researcher’s methodology is flawed. They said that data collection is a core function of any connected device. You can read their full statement below:

We identified flaws in the researcher’s methodology for measuring data volume and disagree with the paper’s claims that an Android device shares 20 times more data than an iPhone. According to our research, these findings are off by an order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication,
This research largely 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.

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As per Leith, these types of data collection practices are still inherently harmful, and it doesn’t matter how much information is being sent to companies like Google or Apple. He added that “Currently there are few, if any, realistic options for preventing this data sharing,”.

Via: Apple Insider

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