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Security & privacy

Bad news if you use Android: Study finds Google collects 20x more data than Apple

It’s a given that companies are constantly after your data. App developers, email services, operating systems and others make it clear in privacy agreements, though you may need to search through the fine print.

Big Tech can share your personal information with third parties with or without your knowledge. Some main culprits of this practice can be found in the app store. Tap or click here to see which apps share the most data with others.

Your iPhone or Android device continuously collects data and shares it with parent companies Apple and Google. This includes your location, account information, contact information, usage data and even health and fitness data. This is standard across both Apple and Google, but a recent study concludes that one collects much more than the other.

iOS vs. Android

The debate between iPhone and Android users will likely never end, but one of these tech giants has a new advantage. A researcher in Ireland compared Google’s and Apple’s operating systems side-by-side. The result showed that while your device is constantly collecting data, Google’s mobile OS collects 20 times more than iOS.

While that is a concerning issue, let’s look at what data both platforms collect:

  • Your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI. This 15-digit number is unique to every device and can help carriers and manufacturers track your phone if it is lost or stolen.
  • Your phone’s hardware serial number, which is another way to track it. This can also be used for service and support as well warranty factors.
  • Your SIM card’s serial number.
  • Your phone number.
  • Your device ID.
  • Telemetry data.
  • Cookies. Tap or click here for tips on deleting cookies from your phone.

Apple additionally tracks location and your local IP address, while Google does not. Google also collects Wi-Fi MAC addresses while Apple did not. Google stands out in how much data it collects, however.

For example, an Android phone collects about 1MB of data upon startup, while an iPhone does the same with about 42KB. Android exports around 1MB of data every 12 hours and Apple exports nearly 52KB.

Google says it isn’t so

Google is calling foul play. In a statement, the company said, “We identified flaws in the researcher’s methodology for measuring data volume and disagree with the paper’s claims that an Android device shares 20 times more data than an iPhone.

“According to our research, these findings are off by an order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication.”

Constant collection

The study showed that regardless of which operating system you use, your data is constantly being sent back to Apple and Google. Both systems connect to their back-end servers every four-and-a-half minutes, even when you’re not using the phone.

While you can opt out of some data collection, you can’t do it all. All is not lost. Tap or click here for three changes you can make to protect your privacy online.

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