New Privacy Study Finds 200 Popular iOS Apps Contact Potential Trackers Without Consent

MADISON, Wis., Jan. 20, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — URLgenius, the leading privacy-first app linking and QR platform for marketers, announced today new research on the state of surveillance marketing, and finds the average iOS app shares information with 12 third-party domains even when the consumer has not granted permission to be tracked.

The research was conducted using Apple’s new app privacy report released with iOS 15.2. These tools let consumers view all the network connections an app makes. The company researched two hundred popular apps among twenty categories to discover the average app makes fifteen network connections, with twelve of those being to third-party domains, even when permission to track is not granted. Popular apps included in the study included Amazon, Netflix, Venmo, McDonald’s, Nike, CNN, and YouTube.    

“The research shows the industry still has far to go to increase transparency around domain connections their apps are making which could represent surveillance marketing tactics,” said Brian Klais, CEO and Founder of URLgenius. “App marketers need to be vigilant about understanding what data their app is sharing with these connections, especially as the industry transitions to privacy-focused marketing solutions.”

Key Findings

  • The average iOS app contacts 15 networks, 12 being third-party domains, even when consent to track is not granted and with the app opened just once
  • Categories with the highest percentage of third-party domain contacts include Magazines (93%), News (91%), Lifestyle (89%)
  • Apps making the most contacts include iHeartRadio, the Wall Street Journal, and ESPN
  • Apps making the fewest contacts include Whatsapp, MyChart, and DuckDuckGo


  • Apps were installed and opened once without registering for the service to identify base connections when opening the app for the first time
  • The iOS setting to “Allow Apps to Request to Track” remained in the off position

App marketers can learn more about the research and view findings for all 200 apps researched at the following URLgenius blog post.

About URLgenius

URLgenius is a leading provider of SDK-free app linking and QR app experiences. URLgenius is trusted by leading luxury, financial, and consumer brands to create seamless app experiences that optimize conversion, engagement, and revenue, without compromising PII data.

Press Inquiries: [email protected]

Media Contact

Scott Allan, URLgenius, +1 917-542-1010, [email protected]

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