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Apple Hearing Study Unintentionally Collects Historical Data From Participants

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An Apple university hearing study has accidentally collected more information than originally intended.

Last year, Apple launched the Apple Hearing Study alongside the University of Michigan in order to determine overall hearing health from participants. But, it turns out a bug associated with the app may have led to a lot more information being collected.

According to a new report from 9to5Mac, both the University of Michigan and Apple are reaching out to the participants who took part in the study, letting them know a bug in the Research app led to the collection of historical data. That data was then shared with Apple, according to an email sent by associate professor Richard Neitzel of the University of Michigan, the principal investigator on the Hearing Study.

During the sign-up process for the Hearing Study, participants had to agree to the collection of certain data points. That included environmental sound levels, heart rate, workout data types, headphone sound levels, and more. However, a bug in the Apple Research app led to the collection of historical data, up to 30 days prior to signing up, explains a letter from the researchers:

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 letter did confirm that at no time did Apple have access to any of the historical data and that it has already been deleted. In order to fix the bug, users need to update to the latest version of the Apple Research app. Until they do, historical data will continue to be looked for and deleted.

“The bug has now been fixed with a study app update and historical data received to data have been deleted,” the letter concludes. “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.”

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