IOS apps use background refresh to send data to third parties
A study conducted by The Washington Post, found that if you enable background updating some iOS apps use this feature to regularly send data to tracking companies.

Geoffrey Fowler of The Washington Post have teamed up with Disconnect, specializing in privacy issues, and use specialized software to see how and when he disposed of his iPhone data. Although it is not surprising that applications use trackers and exchange user data, the frequency with which applications take advantage of background refresh to send data to companies engaged in tracking, surprising, as well as some of the data exchanged.

Fowler found that applications send data such as phone number, email address, location, IP address and more.

Among the applications, transmitting data to Microsoft OneDrive, Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Weather Channel, DoorDash, Yelp, Citizen. So, the app Citizen shared information, allowing to establish the identity of the smartphone owner that violated the privacy policy of the application (the tracker was later removed), and Yelp send data every five minutes.

During the testing week, Fowler was faced with a 5400 trackers. Trackers in the apps serve different purposes. Some analyze user behavior so that applications can optimize the advertising campaign to combat fraud or to create targeted ads.

Not every data collection is the danger, for example if it is anonymized and stored for a limited period of time, but some trackers collect certain information about users, and do not provide clear information about how long the data is stored, and to whom they are provided.

As pointed out by Fowler, there is no way to know which apps are using the trackers and when this data is sent from your iPhone. Apple has no tools that allow iPhone users to see which apps are using the trackers and for what purposes.

Users of iOS devices are concerned about sending data by applications can disable background refresh of apps in the “Settings” or use a VPN to limit data transfer applications to a third party.

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