Everyone knows that the phones we use collect some amount of data related to us so the brands can use it further to improve their services, provide us with relevant ads while serving for many more purposes. But the amount of data collected has always been the question and a researcher has found the answer for all the Android as well as iOS users.
As reported by Ars Technica, researcher Douglas Leith from Trinity College in Ireland put together a side-by-side comparison between the type and amount of data that Google and Apple collect from their devices. As per Leith, both OSes send data to Apple and Google even when a user does simple things such as inserting a SIM card or browsing the handset settings screen.
The devices transmit telemetry data to their respective companies even when a user hasn’t logged in or has explicitly configured privacy settings to opt-out of such collection. “Even when idle, each device connects to its back-end server on average every 4.5 minutes”, says Leith.
Leith says that out of the two operating systems, Android really stands alone with the sheer amount of data it collects from devices. “At startup, an Android device sends Google about 1MB of data, compared with iOS sending Apple around 42KB. When idle, Android sends roughly 1MB of data to Google every 12 hours, compared with iOS sending Apple about 52KB over the same period. In the US alone, Android collectively gathers about 1.3TB of data every 12 hours. During the same period, iOS collects about 5.8GB”, the researcher claims.
Google was quick to respond and contested the findings saying they’re based on faulty methods for measuring the data that’s collected by each OS. The company also contended that data collection is a core function of any Internet-connected device.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson said, “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”.
The spokesperson from Apple said that the “company provides transparency and control for personal information it collects, that the report gets things wrong, that Apple offers privacy protections that prevent Apple from tracking user locations, and that Apple informs users about the collection of location-related data”.