Apple Research app bug mistakenly collected historical data from Hearing Study participants
Last year, Apple teamed up with the University of Michigan to launch the Apple Hearing Study, focused on examining factors that impact hearing health. Apple and the University of Michigan are now reaching to participants to inform them of a bug in the study app that caused historical data to be shared with Apple.
The email, obtained by 9to5Mac, is signed by Richard Neitzel, an associate professor at the University of Michigan and the principal investigator on the Apple Hearing Study. It explains that during the enrollment process, participants provided consent to the collection of certain headphone sound level, environmental sound level, heart rate, and workout data types going forward.
Consent for those data types was necessary to help researchers understand the link between long-term sound exposure and its impact on hearing health.
As it turns out, there was a bug in the Apple Research application that caused the Apple Hearing Study to unintentionally collect up to 30 days of historical data for the authorized data types. Importantly, the consent form did not state that historical data would be collected:
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 email emphasizes that at no point did Apple “have access to information collected from the Apple Research app that could directly identify you.”
The bug has now been fixed with a study app update and historical data received to data 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.
Apple and the University of Michigan encourage study participants to make sure they are running the latest version of the Apple Research app, which is available on the App Store.
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