Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mac OS X Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10) Sending Safari/Spotlight Search Data and User Location to Apple And Third Parties.

Rock Solid, but Slippery
Mac OS X 10.10, Yosemite, Every bit of Data (search) is Mine!

Apple started offering the upgrade of it's latest Operating System, Mac OS X Yosemite, aka Mac OS X 10.10 to users with a plethora of new features and functions. In between these improvements, Apple also managed to send you the mechanism to collect you search patterns and location information back to Apple and there on to third parties like Microsoft's Bing.
Well for what it is worth, Apple sort of tells you that it is collecting data and if you are willing to jump through hoops, you are able to disable the feature, which also Apple says was enabled with your privacy in mind.

"When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple,If you have Location Services on your device turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight the location of your device at that time will be sent to Apple.", states, Apple's 'About Spotlight & Privacy' document.
So one can disable this Apple's preference of collecting Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches in
System Preferences >
Spotlight >
Search Results.

You are far from done yet, Even after disabling this feature, Safari has another hook to catch your search data and sent to Apple and others. So you need to disable that as well. In order to do that, uncheck 'Include Spotlight Suggestions' in
Safari >
Preferences >

After revelation of collecting data and phoning home, Apple released a statement saying that the data it collects are cleaned up and no identifiable data is sent. But elsewhere on the on web, suggests otherwise, like leaving persistent (two year) cookies. You can read all the technical details at
"We are absolutely committed to protecting our users' privacy and have built privacy right into our products. For Spotlight Suggestions we minimize the amount of information sent to Apple, Apple doesn't retain IP addresses from users' devices. Spotlight blurs the location on the device so it never sends an exact location to Apple. Spotlight doesn't use a persistent identifier, so a user's search history can't be created by Apple or anyone else. Apple devices only use a temporary anonymous session ID for a 15-minute period before the ID is discarded.
We also worked closely with Microsoft to protect our users' privacy. Apple forwards only commonly searched terms and only city-level location information to Bing. Microsoft does not store search queries or receive users' IP addresses. You can also easily opt out of Spotlight Suggestions, Bing or Location Services for Spotlight."
Will I trust Apple, No!.


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