What I found out when I blocked apps from tracking my iPhone for one week

Rob Sturgeon.

When Apple made an appearance at the CES tech conference in Las Vegas in 2019, they also put up a sign. It wasn’t a billboard, as many news outlets claimed, but a 13-story Apple ad plastered onto the side of a hotel. It had one message: “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”.

To anyone who knows the first thing about what makes smartphones smart, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. In order to browse any website or use most apps, you need to be connected to the internet.

Requests need to leave your phone, travel to a server, and a response needs to return with the information you want. But those requests aren’t always for data the user has requested. In fact, in many cases, those requests aren’t initiated by the user at all.

And so I tried a little experiment: blocked apps from tracking my iPhone for just one week

And during that time I was tracked 4,341 times by 33 tracking platforms.

Some highlights:

• Google tracked me nearly twice as much as all others combined

• Facebook and Amazon tracked me more than any other company (except Google)

• The rest of the data goes to 29 companies, most of which I’ve never heard of

Let’s remember this was just one week. If we assume the rate of tracking has always been somewhat similar, we can extrapolate from there. If all 52 weeks in a year are the same, I’m being tracked 225,732 times a year. And I’ve been using iPhones exclusively for 10 years, which means…