Apple Hearing Study Bug Results in Accidental Historical Data Collection From Participants

Apple device owners who participated in the Apple Hearing Study that Apple is conducting with the University of Michigan School of Public Health are today receiving emails letting them know about a bug that resulted in excess data collection.

apple hearing study bug
Those who enrolled in the study consented to allow Apple and researchers to collect headphone sound level, environmental sound level, heart rate, and workout data types. The data is used to help researchers better understand the link between long-term sound exposure and the impact on hearing health.

According to the email participants are receiving, a bug in the study caused up to 30 days worth of historical data to be collected. Data collection did not fall outside of what was consented to when participants signed up, but the sign up form did not mention the collection of historical data.

Thank you for your participation in the Apple Hearing Study. When you enrolled in the study, you provided consent to collect certain headphone sound level, environmental sound level, heart rate, and workout data types during the enrollment process. This data is collected to help researchers, listed in the consent form, understand the link between long-term sound exposure and its impact on hearing health. We recently learned that due to a bug, after study enrollment, the Apple Hearing Study unintentionally collected up to 30 days of historical data for these authorized data types. The study only collected data after your consent was obtained. However, the study consent form does not state that historical data will be collected.

The bug has now been fixed with a study app update and historical data received to date have been deleted. We remain committed to your privacy and will continue to monitor for and delete any additional historical data if received until you update your Apple Research app. Please update your Apple Research app to the latest version here, to receive the fix.

At no time did Apple have access to information collected from the Apple Research app that could directly identify you. Please refer to the study informed consent form for additional details on the data that is being collected, how your data is stored, and who your data might be shared with for the purposes of the study.

Richard Neitzel, the principal investigator in the study, says that Apple did not have access to information collected from the Apple Research app that could be used for identification purposes.

The bug has been addressed with an update to the Apple Research app and historical data received to data has been deleted. To ensure no further historical data collection, participants are being asked to update their Apple Research apps.

Top Rated Comments

mannyvel Avatar
16 weeks ago
All that stuff is in the health app/healthkit, and is saved forever. You turned that on when you turned on ambient noise and sound level monitoring, and you can turn it off if you want.

Come on people. If you pretend that you care you should at least pretend to understand the basics of what you consented to.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mansu944 Avatar
16 weeks ago
Well, doesn't seem to serious, but I am glad they told us.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Realityck Avatar
16 weeks ago
Yes very forthcoming with reporting bug and its remediation.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bobmans Avatar
16 weeks ago

Why does it even log all this data by default? If it can upload historical data from before you did participate, it must also be logging a lot of other stuff forehanded.
Uhm, did you know there's a health app on your phone? What is a health app without data about your health?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Analog Kid Avatar
16 weeks ago
I agree it's refreshing for a company to be upfront and quickly resolve an issue, but Apple needs to be better than this. Bugs like this shouldn't happen, certainly not on anything that resembles a medical study.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
azmscle Avatar
16 weeks ago

This sounds fine and dandy. Good response. EXCEPT the part about historical data... Now I'd like to know if they accidentally had access to historical data about headphone volume, etc... what other historical data do they collect on my device? If something as seemingly frivolous as headphone volume is kept, that means lots of other "historical data" may be collected. And if that's the case, other breaches in security (thinking Cambridge Analytica type issues here) may be harvesting that said data. Things like historical data of keystrokes would be a nightmare.
It specifically states that the historical data was only collected on the authorized data types. But go on and keep fear mongering.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

april 2021 event coverage feature

Apple Event Live Coverage: New iPads, AirTags, and More Expected [Event Over]

Tuesday April 20, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Spring Loaded" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut updated iPad models and perhaps some other hardware such as AirTags or iMac models based on Apple silicon. Apple is providing a live video stream on its website, on YouTube, and in the company's TV app across its platforms. We will also be updating this article with live blog...
m1 imac colors

Apple Announces Redesigned iMac With M1 Chip and Seven Color Options

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has announced a new, redesigned 24-inch iMac, featuring an M1 chip, a 4.5K display, and a range of color options, as well as an improved cooling system, front-facing camera, speaker system, microphones, power connector, and peripherals. The new iMac features a completely new compact design, and comes in a range of seven striking colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, purple,...
iphone 12 preorder purple

Apple Launching iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in New Purple Color on April 30

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:08 am PDT by
Apple today announced that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini will be available in a new purple color starting April 30, with pre-orders starting this Friday. Apple is also releasing a new MagSafe Leather Case and Leather Sleeve in Deep Violet, a Silicone Case in Capri Blue, Pistachio, Cantaloupe, or Amethyst, and a Leather Wallet in Arizona, all available to order beginning today. iPhone...
14

Apple Says iOS 14.5 Will Be Released 'Next Week'

Tuesday April 20, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Apple today in a press release about its new AirTag item tracker announced that iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will be available starting "next week." iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 are packed with new features, including the ability for iPhone users who are wearing an Apple Watch to unlock the iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask. iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will also be the minimum software versions...
ipad pro with m1 chip

Apple Introduces Next-Generation iPad Pro With M1 Chip, Thunderbolt, 5G, XDR Display, and More

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:40 am PDT by
Apple today announced the next-generation iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, Thunderbolt and USB4 support, 5G connectivity on cellular models with mmWave support in the United States, and more. With an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, Apple says the M1 chip in the new iPad Pro provides up to 50% faster performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to the A12Z Bionic chip ...
f1618938547

Apple Announces AirTag Tracking Devices Starting At $29 Each

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today announced AirTag, a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that's designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app. AirTags are accessories for attaching to backpacks, luggage, and other items. Any U1 device like the iPhone 12 can be used for precision finding to guide you right to the item you're looking...
Ports 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1 copy

Stolen MacBook Pro Schematics Confirm Apple's Plans to Add More Ports and Remove Touch Bar

Wednesday April 21, 2021 10:31 am PDT by
Schematics stolen from Apple supplier Quanta Computer outline Apple's plans for the next-generation MacBook Pro models that are expected in 2021, and clearly confirm plans for additional ports and a return to MagSafe. MacRumors saw the schematics after they were leaked online, and some of them feature the logic board of the next-generation MacBook Pro. On the right side of the machine,...
iPad Pro

New 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Will Be 0.5mm Thicker to Accommodate Mini-LED Display

Monday April 19, 2021 11:30 am PDT by
The upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be thicker than the previous-generation version, likely due to the inclusion of the mini-LED display. We've heard several rumors about the change in thickness, and now leaked design images have confirmed it. A source that designs accessories for Apple devices sent MacRumors a series of photos that feature exact dimensions for the new iPad Pro models, and...
iPad Pro Feature Orange

Wedbush Analysts Say 'Spring Loaded' Event Will Debut New iPads With 'Modest Price Increase,' Along With 'a Few Surprises'

Monday April 19, 2021 6:37 am PDT by
Apple is planning to launch a new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro at its "Spring Loaded" event tomorrow, along with "a few surprises," according to Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe explained that the iPad will be the main focus of Apple's "Spring Loaded" event, with new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and ...
maxresdefault

Apple Event 2021: Everything Apple Announced at Its 'Spring Loaded' Event in Just 6 Minutes

Tuesday April 20, 2021 4:23 pm PDT by
Apple today held its first event of 2021, and it was one of the most exciting events that we've seen in some time. Apple announced a whole slew of new products, including an M1 iMac, an M1 iPad Pro, a refreshed 4K Apple TV, and the long-awaited AirTags. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce all of the new devices during its virtual...