Data apple stores of users
- Apple stores information about you, and you can download a copy of what it has.
- Apple knows the apps you’ve downloaded, the music you’ve downloaded and the books you’ve purchased. It also knows all the devices you’ve bought.
- Apple doesn’t store other identifiable information, like your email or location, as some other tech companies do.
Apple mostly keeps tabs on my interactions with the App Store and iTunes. It has a list of every single app, song, book, music video and in-app purchase I’ve made on my Apple devices dating all the way back to 2010. There’s also a log of every time those apps were updated.
It also knows all of the songs I ever stored in iTunes Match, the service that lets you keep a cloud copy of your personal music files wherever you go.
There’s even a copy of every product that I’ve purchased from Apple, dating to an iPhone 5, including serial numbers for all of those products. Apple also has a log of every customer support query I’ve made, ranging from cracked screens to questions about iPhone activation. When repairs were made, it has a log of what was damaged and serial numbers for the old and replacement parts that were added.
You can download your own archive of this data from Apple. Here’s how:
- Scroll down to the section titled “Access to Personal Information.” It’s worth reading and says that Apple will provide you with a copy of the information it holds if you request it.
- Click the ”Privacy Contact Form ” link.
- Choose your language.
- Select “I have a question about privacy issues” from the drop-down box.
- Fill in your first and last name, email, subject and comments. I noted that I was requesting a copy of my personal information in the comments field.
- Click submit.
Now you’ll need to wait for a response.
Apple’s privacy team will reach out to request some of the same personal information above, in addition to your Apple ID, a registered product serial number and a previous AppleCare support case number. This is to verify your identity.
Then you’ll wait. It took me six days to finally get the file from Apple. A second email included a password that’s used to open the zip file, which is an added measure of security. By comparison, Facebook had my data within an hour or so, while Google took about 48 hours.
Apple stores information about you. It’s mostly related to the content you’re consuming or products you’re buying, including apps, music and books. There isn’t anything here that shows logs of my messages, specific locations, ads I’ve clicked or copies of my photos, which are some of the things that Google and Facebook have.
The zip file contained mostly Excel spreadsheets, packed with information that Apple stores about me. None of the files contained content information — like text messages and photos — but they don’t contain metadata, like when and who I messaged or called on FaceTime.
Apple says that any data information it collects on you is yours to have if you want it, but as of yet, it doesn’t turn over your content which is largely stored on your slew of Apple devices. That’s set to change later this year when the tech giant will allow customers to download their data archives, largely to comply with new European data protection and privacy rules. And, of the data it collects to power Siri, Maps, and News, it does so anonymously — Apple can’t attribute that data to the device owner.
My entire set of data can be perused in less than an hour — at most.
One spreadsheet — handily — contained explanations for all the data fields, which we’ve uploaded here. Not all the spreadsheets contained information referencing these fields, but it shows you what kind of data Apple can collect on you.
In the first folder, several spreadsheets contained information relating to my interactions with my devices and my content.
Account Details.xlsx contains basic information about the account holder, including name, address, phone number, and Apple ID information. It also includes when an account was created and IP address of the Apple server used to open the account.
iCloud Logs.xlsx keeps a note on every time one of your devices downloads data from iCloud, including your photo library, contacts, and Safari browsing history — but doesn’t contain the actual data.
MailLogs.xlsx also keeps a record of each time something from your Apple device interacts with your iCloud email account, but no email content is stored here.
Two more files relate to Apple’s flagship end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, FaceTime and iMessage. Because even Apple can’t access the content of encrypted video calls and text messages, Apple can’t turn over the data, but it can provide information on all the calls and messages that are routed through its servers.
In both the FaceTime and IDS (iMessage) logs, notes read that the logs only indicate if there was an attempt to place a FaceTime call or to send an iMessage, because both requests are sent through Apple’s servers. But neither log whether the call was made or message was sent, let alone if it was successful.
In a separate folder, another batch of Excel documents contained information mostly pertaining to my interactions with Apple, like downloads and support requests.
AOS Orders contains an entire history of devices and accessories I’ve bought from Apple dating back to my first purchase. It also includes the five separate occasions I bought new earphones roughly once per year because my cat had chewed through them.
CRM Installed Product is a list of every Apple device ever bought, including highly detailed information — like serial numbers, a note on if a device is unlocked, unique networking MAC addresses for Bluetooth, Ethernet and Wifi coCRMO AppleCare Case Contact contains basic contact information on the account holder, such as name, address, and phone number — and if the user opts into marketing emails and phone calls.
CRM AppleCare Case Header included every interaction I’ve had with customer support. Every time you call, a company representative makes notes about the customer’s problem, and also describes the next steps or the outcome of the call.
CRM Warranty includes all the information on a device owner’s warranty, what AppleCare coverage they have — if any, and when warranties expire.
DS Signons is a long list of every time you logged in to iTunes and from which specific device, and contains peripheral information like if the login failed.Game Center predictably contains information on all the gaming sessions a user has played or interacted with — which in my case, as you’d expect, is limited to almost zero.
iForgot keeps a log of every time you visited your Apple ID page on the web, or reset your password.
iTunes Match Uploads retains a record of every song you’ve ever uploaded to iTunes Match service, which matches your music with higher quality and downloads that copy instead. The list also includes your user agent information, which can identify your device.
iTunes Match Downloads similarly keeps a list of all matched music that’s later downloaded from iTunes Match.
iTunes Downloads contains a user’s entire download history since the account’s creation — from apps, songs, albums, videos, and movies — from the iTunes Store. It also includes information on which device the item was downloaded and its IP address.
Repair Transaction Details recounts every time you put in a repair request with Apple, and includes information on what the issue is, any notes made by Apple staff, and any information that identifies the device, such as a phone’s IMEI number.
Marketing Contact includes the information that Apple uses to contact you for marketing reasons, and the reason why — such as if the user has a developer account.