Apple’s app activity recording function sparks online discussion among Chinese netizens
Published: Oct 12, 2021 02:18 PM
A man tries the new iPhone 11 at an Apple store in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province on Friday. Photo: IC

A man tries the new iPhone 11 at an Apple store in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province on Friday. Photo: IC

iPhone's latest function which records app activity put the topic about personal data protection under spotlight on Chinese Twitter-like social media Sina Weibo recently, after one Sina Weibo user found he was tracked by an app via the function of iOS 15. 

Sina Weibo user "Xuanningxuan Sir," a social media influencer within the technology sector said on Sunday that the mobile app of Meituan in his phone tracked his location every five minutes on October 8 and it lasted for 24 hours. 

He found out the tracking activities of the Meituan app was made by a third-party activity analysis tool called App Privacy Insights which can analyze and visualize the app activity data collected by iPhone. 

The function of recording app activity was a component of the most recent iOS 15 update, which can "save a 7-day summary of when apps access your data, like your location or microphone and see when apps or websites you visit within apps contact domains," said the introduction. 

However, there is no official analysis tool developed by Apple to analyze saved app activity data, and the analysis can be only processed by a third-party app. 

Most netizens were shocked by the news, and lots of netizens admitted that the mobile app's usage of personal data is very common nowadays. One Sina Weibo user named "Caicai kana" said there might be more mobile apps that can locate their users. 

Liu Dingding, an independent industry analyst, said on Tuesday that China's cyber space regulator had conducted multiple rectification campaigns targeting illicit using of personal data by mobile apps so far.

"Some positive consequence was seen after the campaigns but the illicit activities of mobile apps are yet to be eliminated," said Liu.

He suggested that Apple must have ability to strengthen the privacy protection measures with strict and clear laws essential to prevent similar incidents. 

Global Times