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
18 months 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
18 months ago
Well, doesn't seem to serious, but I am glad they told us.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Realityck Avatar
18 months ago
Yes very forthcoming with reporting bug and its remediation.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bobmans Avatar
18 months 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
18 months 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
18 months 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)

Related Stories

apple watch ecg

Apple Launches Study into Whether Apple Watch Can Detect COVID-19

Wednesday April 14, 2021 4:51 am PDT by
Apple is launching a study into whether the Apple Watch can be used to detect respiratory illnesses such as coronavirus or flu, in partnership with the University of Washington and the Seattle Flu Study. Apple initially announced the study at its Time Flies event in September last year, it but has only recently launched, as spotted by Apple Insider.The goal of the study is to see if the...
life360 app

Tile Buyer Life360 Selling Precise Location Data on Millions of Users [Updated]

Monday December 6, 2021 1:05 pm PST by
Location tracking service Life360 has been selling the precise location data of tens of millions of its users, according to a new report shared by The Markup. Life360 bills itself as a "family safety platform" app that is meant to allow family members to keep tabs on one another with tracking software that's installed on smartphones, and there are both Android and iPhone apps. The...
apple devices security bug bounty mac iphone ipad

Security Researchers Unhappy With Apple's Bug Bounty Program

Thursday September 9, 2021 10:00 am PDT by
Apple offers a bug bounty program that's designed to pay security researchers for discovering and reporting critical bugs in Apple operating systems, but researchers are not happy with how it operates or Apple's payouts in comparison to other major tech companies, reports The Washington Post. In interviews with more than two dozen security researchers, The Washington Post collected a number...
iPhone 13 Face ID

Apple Researching Ways to Use iPhone Camera to Detect Childhood Autism

Tuesday September 21, 2021 2:56 am PDT by
Apple is reportedly researching ways to use the cameras inside of the iPhone to detect childhood autism, aiming to use data from the camera to observe a child's behavior that could be used for early diagnosis, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, which echoes previously announced research efforts, Apple wants to be able to use the camera inside of...
siri glow

Apple Launched Invite-Only 'Siri Speech Study' App to Improve Siri

Friday August 20, 2021 5:09 am PDT by
Apple recently launched an invite-only iOS app called "Siri Speech Study" to improve and provide feedback on the Siri voice assistant, it has emerged (via TechCrunch). The app, which first appeared on the App Store on August 9 without fanfare and was updated on August 18, allows users to voluntarily share their Siri interactions and feedback with Apple so that it can gain data to improve...
generic tracking prompt green

Report: iOS Users Who Opt-Out of App Tracking Continue to Be Tracked by Facebook and Snapchat

Wednesday December 8, 2021 5:50 am PST by
"Loose" interpretations of Apple's privacy policies allow apps such as Facebook and Snapchat to continue tracking users for targeted advertising even when they have asked to not be tracked, The Financial Times reports. In May, Apple launched its App Tracking Transparency feature that allows users to opt-out of being tracked across apps and websites for advertising purposes. Seven months...
oculus health app

Oculus Quest 2 Movement Data Will Sync With Apple Health App Starting in April

Thursday March 10, 2022 11:07 am PST by
Facebook parent company Meta today announced an upcoming fitness update for the Oculus Quest 2, which will allow fitness data captured during VR workouts to be integrated with the Apple Health app. Right now, when people exercise with interactive games like Liteboxer, Beat Saber, or Dance Central using the Oculus Quest 2, the data can only be viewed on the Oculus Mobile app on the headset...
iPhone 12 v Android 2020

Research Claiming Android Collects 20x More User Data Than iOS 'Off By An Order of Magnitude,' Says Google

Wednesday March 31, 2021 1:08 am PDT by
Google and Apple both collect data from their users on their respective mobile operating systems, even when users are simply browsing the settings page or inserting a SIM card. Android, however, collects 20x more data from users compared to iOS, according to newly published research. A study from Douglas Leith at Trinity College, reported by Ars Technica, says that while both OSes collect data ...

Popular Stories

RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
14 16 inch 2021 mbps back to back feature orange

Five Things You Still Can't Do With a MacBook Pro

Wednesday May 11, 2022 11:16 am PDT by
It's been over 200 days since Apple debuted its redesigned MacBook Pro lineup. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch display sizes, the new-look MacBooks wowed Apple fans and creative pros alike with their powerful custom Apple silicon, mini-LED screen, and multiple connectivity options. But there are still some things you can't do with a MacBook Pro. Here are five features some Mac users are still...
iOS 16 mock for article

Which Devices Will iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 Support?

Thursday May 12, 2022 7:29 am PDT by
While there are as yet no concrete rumors related to which devices iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will support, the discontinuation of the iPod touch earlier this week may be an indication that as many as nine devices could be about to lose support for Apple's upcoming operating systems. iOS and iPadOS 13, 14, and 15 support all of the same devices, with the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus,...
apple mac ipad watch trade in

Apple Launches Limited-Time Bonus Trade-In Credit for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch in Many Countries

Wednesday May 11, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple has launched a special limited-time offer for iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad trade-in that offers customers additional credit when trading in their only device for a new one. The offer is being run in several countries including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, and France. In the UK, Apple is offering up to £50 of extra trade-in credit...
sony

Sony Unveils Redesigned WH-1000XM5 Headphones With Improved Noise Cancelation

Thursday May 12, 2022 9:26 am PDT by
Sony's flagship WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones have been among the best on the market for some time, and today Sony announced its fifth-generation WH-1000XM5 headphones, boasting a new design and several improvements over the previous model. The redesigned headphones replace the shrouded arms that swivel on the XM4's with an exposed arm that has a single contact point at the earcups,...
apple tv 4k design clue

Kuo: New Apple TV to Launch in Second Half of 2022, Lower Price Possible

Friday May 13, 2022 7:58 am PDT by
Apple plans to launch a new version of the Apple TV in the second half of 2022, according to well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a tweet today, Kuo said the new Apple TV will have an improved cost structure, suggesting that the device could have a lower price that is more competitive with other streaming media players like Google's Chromecast line, Amazon's Fire TV line, and the Roku line. ...
iPhone 14 Purple Feature

Full Range of iPhone 14 Color Options Revealed by Purported Leak From China

Wednesday May 11, 2022 2:20 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models will be available in a refreshed range of color options, including an all-new purple color, according to a recent rumor. The claim comes from a post on Chinese social media site Weibo by an unverified source and purports to reveal the full range of color options for Apple's upcoming iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models. Compared to the selection of color...