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These iOS apps collect the most personal data and alternatives that collect the least

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A survey conducted by Invisibly discovered that 82% of those responding support measures that would prevent devices and companies from collecting data and sharing it. 76% don’t like receiving targeted ads online and want this practice to stop, and 68% state that data privacy is something that is important to them. Interestingly, 11% more men than women don’t mind receiving targeted online ads.

In many different categories of apps, you can find an alternative that doesn’t take much personal data

Invisibly is a platform where mobile device users who want to be in control of the data they generate get to control the data that they are basically giving away for free allowing faceless companies to profit from it. Invisibly hopes to empower mobile device users to the point where they might earn some money by selling their data to advertisers through the platform.

The proof about how the public feels about being tracked for online ads is in the pudding, and by pudding we mean the percentage of iOS users who have used the App Tracking
Transparency (ATT) feature launched by Apple in iOS 14.5. Globally, as of May 16th, 15% of users have given third-party apps permission to track them for the purpose of sending them online ads. In the U.S., 6% of iOS users gave app trackers permission to follow their travels online and through apps in order to receive online ads.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider Surfshark took a look at the Privacy Labels Apple requires that new and updated apps show in the App Store. The labels, in the format of a nutritional label on food packaging, shows what kind of data an app collects from users and whether that data can be used to figure out who a user is, and whether that data can track the user to deliver online ads. Armed with this info, Surfshark looked at different categories of apps and found the one that takes the most data from users and an alternative title that takes the least.

For example, in the category of Messaging and Video Calls, Facebook Messenger collects the most personal data while Cisco Webex Meetings takes the least. Among Social Media apps, Facebook takes the most personal data from subscribers while Clubhouse takes the least. You still need to do your homework here because even if two apps are in the same category, they don’t necessarily share the same capabilities.

Consider that Facebook uses written messages, pictures, and videos to share information between users, Clubhouse uses audio only to connect subscribers. Still, the differences in how private data is handled between two apps in the same category is often shocking. In the “Navigation” category, Waze GPS collects plenty of private data while InRoute shares no data at all.

Social Media and Food Delivery apps are the worst when it comes to collecting personal data

You might have never heard of the apps in any category that collect the least amount of data, and that absolutely makes sense. Surfshark found that the most popular apps collect the most amount of personal data. If you were wondering how the apps that don’t save any of their users’ personal information survive without selling that data to advertisers, some charge a fee to use the app, some offer in-app purchases, and others have both a free and a premium paid-version of their app.

If you’re interested in knowing which categories have the most privacy busting apps, Social Media and Food Delivery and tied for first. Shopping, Dating and Payments complete the top five followed by Flight Booking, Period Tracker, Messaging & Video Calls, Streaming and Personal Finance. The next group includes GPS Navigation, Cryptocurrency, Pregnancy Tracker, Weather, Email, Kids, Image Editing and Browsers.

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