Report: Google Collects 20 Times More Data on Android Than Apple Does on iPhone

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 31 Mar 2021

app tracking transparency iphone data

A new report, based on the research done by computer scientists at Trinity, claims that Google collects up to 20 times more data from Android users compared to the data Apple collects from iPhone and iOS users.

Apple, so far, has been proud of its privacy claims. The company vouches for user privacy, and the same can be seen with privacy features introduced in iOS 14. Once, at a CES event where Apple rarely makes an appearance, the company put up a billboard highlighting iPhone’s privacy.

The researcher claims that the study was thoroughly conducted, meaning that Douglas looked at the data being transferred to Apple and Google when a user wasn’t logged in and even when the phone was sitting idle. The researcher even looked at the data being transferred when a user had explicitly asked the operating systems to not share their data.

“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.”

He says that even when the phones are sitting idle, each device connects to its back-end server on average every 4.5 minutes. And it wasn’t just the operating systems sending data to the two companies, even the pre-installed apps shared data with Google and Apple.

iOS automatically shares data collected from Siri, Safari, and iCloud with Apple, whereas Android shared data collected from Chrome, YouTube, Google Docs, Safetyhub, Google Messenger, the device clock, and the search bar with Google.

Leith says he used a jailbroken iPhone 8 running iOS 13.6.1 and a Google Pixel 2 running Android 10 for this research. Even though the researcher isn’t using the latest, and even official, operating systems from the two companies, it does say a lot about how the two companies handle user’s data.

Google even reached out to ArsTechnica about the report, saying the research had ‘flaws’ and it disagreed with the researcher’s claim. “According to our research, these findings are off by an order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication,” said Google in a statement.

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[Via ArsTechnica]