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AI-Based Apps on Apple Store Share Varying Amounts of Data with Third Parties

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jun 20, 2023

The popularity and proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI)-based apps have caused concerns in a short time and now comes one more: They share information with third parties, Accounting Today reported.

Three quarters of the 159 apps in the Apple App Store examined by cybersecurity company Home Security Heroes shared data with third parties, the company found. That information could be a user's browsing history, search history, system diagnostics, personal identifiers, location data, purchases, usage data and the actual content users put into the various apps.

The most intrusive of these apps was made by Google; its learning app, Socratic by Google, shared almost 36 percent of users' data with third parties. That data included browsing history, contact info, identifiers, location and search history. Apps Duolingo, Chat AI, DaVinci and K Health, each shared roughly 28 percent of their users' data.

Sixty-four percent of the AI-powered apps examined tracked users’ personal data for their own marketing efforts. The most invasive, homework helper Brainly,  monitored almost 43 percent of  its users' personal data.

Four apps—Google Assistant. Socratic, art generator DaVinci, and photo and video editor Facetune—tracked 36 percent of personal data for advertising activities.

The investigation found that the most desirable personal data to AI apps were usage data; almost 41 percent of the apps examined tracked this data. Identifiers were the next most desirable, as they were tracked by almost 40 percent.  

The most data-hungry AI app category was found to be productivity, with virtual assistants and chatbots tracking almost 72 percent of activity. Education was the next most data-hungry, as apps such as Brainly, Socratic by Google and Duolingo tracked more than 64 percent of activity.

Home Security Heroes used Apple’s privacy labels on the App Store, which categorize the sorts of user data collected by apps into 14 categories, along with their respective purposes. Both ‘Third Party Advertising’ and ‘Developer’s Advertising or Marketing’ were examined in the research.

To determine which apps share the most data with third parties, the ‘Third Party Advertising’ section was analyzed, and each app was given a score out of 14 based on the number of categories they measured.

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