Apple will track calls and emails in iOS 12 to fight fraud

Apple’s iOS 12 update introduces feature to give users a ‘trust score’ by tracking their calls and emails

  • Apple released an updated version of its iTunes privacy policy earlier this week
  • It includes a provision saying it will assign a ‘trust score’ to iOS and tvOS devices
  • The firm will only collect an ‘abstract summary’ of the data in an attempt to fight fraud, like false reviews, fraudulent purchases and spam App Store accounts
  • e-mail

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Apple will start collecting an ‘abstracted summary’ of your phone calls and emails in an attempt to fight fraud.   

The iPhone maker released an updated version of its iTunes privacy policy this week, which includes a provision that says it will now assign a ‘trust score’ to users’ devices.

The new provision applies to both iOS and tvOS devices, according to VentureBeat, which first spotted the change. 

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Apple released an updated version of its iTunes privacy policy, which includes a provision that says it will now assign a ‘trust score’ to users’ devices in an attempt to fight fraud

HOW TO INSTALL iOS 12

To install iOS 12, you must have a device running its predecessor, iOS 11.

Once the update is available, head to your settings.

Tap tap General, and then Software Update on your Apple device.

You will need a WiFi connection and have to be connected to a charger if your battery is lower than 50 per cent. 

The provision says: ‘To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase.

‘The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers,’ it continues. 

A key detail in the provision notes that Apple won’t examine the contents of calls or emails, but will only collect an ‘abstract summary’ of the data. 

It also won’t sit on Apple’s servers forever.

Still, the provision has attracted attention over the mere suggestion of Apple tracking users’ phone calls and emails.

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For example, VentureBeat noted that Apple TVs don’t make phone calls or receive emails, so it’s unclear what kinds of data will be monitored for anti-fraud purposes.

The provision describes that there’s other potential ‘information about how you use your device’ that could be collected.  


A key detail in the provision notes that Apple won’t examine the contents of calls or emails, but will only collect an ‘abstract summary’ of the data. It also won’t sit on Apple’s servers forever

It’s likely that the data will be used to help Apple crack down on false reviews, spam App Store accounts and fraudulent purchases, however.

Apple has previously attracted scrutiny from lawmakers and privacy experts over how and what kinds of data it collects from users.

In July, officials from the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee said they wanted more information from Apple on how it handles users’ personal data, such as ‘spoken words, email content and location data,’ the Wall Street Journal reported. 

CEO Tim Cook has long maintained that the company practices transparency with its users in terms of how they store and collect data. 

‘We felt strongly about privacy when no one cared,’ Cook said earlier this year. ‘We could not see the specific details, but we could see that the building of a detailed profile on people would likely result in significant harm over time.’ 


It’s likely that the data will be used to help Apple crack down on false reviews, spam App Store accounts and fraudulent purchases. The updated policies were included in iOS 12

The company also refuses to share users’ privacy data, such as phone call logs, even when it’s requested from foreign governments.   

Apple isn’t the first tech giant to move toward assigning users a trust score. 

Last month, Facebook said it had begun giving users a ‘trustworthiness score’ to cut down on fake news on its platform. 

The social media giant plans to assign users a reputation score that ranks them on a scale of from zero to one, factoring in information like how often they flag content as false on the site.

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