Apple Tracking User Calls and Emails to ‘Prevent Fraud’ with ‘Value Score’

The Associated Press
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Apple is claiming that it tracks its device owners’ calls and emails in order to “prevent fraud” by assigning a “value score” to each iPhone and iPad user.

While Apple has long been the champion of user privacy in many cases, by heavily encrypting its devices and even challenging the FBI when asked to unlock iPhones, the company’s latest announcement seems to paint them in a different light. The tech giant has now revealed in an update to the iTunes Store & Privacy policy that users’ calls and emails will be monitored in order to assign a “value score” to the user and their devices.

The update to the iTunes policy reads:

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.

While a trust score could help to determine if purchases from an iTunes account are fraudulent, why Apple has to track users emails and phone calls to build this score is still unknown. The data from these interactions is sent to Apple but the privacy policy notes that “the company’s standard privacy abstracting techniques and retained only for a limited period, without any way to work backward from the score to user behavior. No calls, emails, or other abstractions of that data are shared with Apple.”

A previously unreported user rating system was also recently revealed to be in use at Facebook, where each Facebook user is assigned a trustworthiness score on a scale. The Washington Post reports that this system was developed by Facebook over the past year so that Facebook could measure the trustworthiness of users in order to pick out malicious actors on the platform.

Tessa Lyons, the product manager in charge of fighting fake news on the Facebook platform, said that the reputation assessment system was developed as part of Facebook’s methods to crack down on misinformation. Facebook previously relied on user reports to determine if misinformation was being spread, but some users began reporting information that they didn’t agree with as untrue, leading to issues for Facebook moderators.

Lyons said that it was “not uncommon for people to tell us something is false simply because they disagree with the premise of a story or they’re intentionally trying to target a particular publisher.” Lyons said that the trustworthiness score between zero and one isn’t meant to be an absolute indicator of a users trustworthiness, but rather the score is one of a thousand new behavioral measurements that Facebook takes into account when reviewing reported content.

Whether Facebook’s value score will be taken into account when dealing with issues with Apple remains to be seen.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at


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