How did Apple get all of my email addresses?

By admin
How did

Apple
ORG

get all of my email addresses?


September 27 2023
DATE

For software testing purposes, I use a

Mac
ORG

mini with

four
CARDINAL


APFS
GPE

boot volumes,

one
CARDINAL

each for

Big Sur
ORG

,

Monterey
GPE

,

Ventura
GPE

, and

Sonoma
GPE

. These were all "fresh" macOS installs with no upgrades or data migration. For the most part, the

Mac
ORG

mini contains very little of my personal data. I do sign in with my

Apple
ORG

ID, but that’s it. I never receive, read, or send email on that

Mac
ORG

. Nonetheless, while looking around in

System Settings
LOC

on

Sonoma
GPE

, I selected the Internet Accounts pane, clicked the Add Account button, and was shocked to see, in the list of

Suggestions
ORG

,

five
CARDINAL

different email addresses of mine, only one of which was associated with my

Apple
ORG

ID.

Two
CARDINAL

of the email addresses were

Gmail
PERSON

(separate business and personal), one was a support address for my business domain, and one was an address with a

third
ORDINAL

-party email provider.

Four
CARDINAL

of the email address listed have never been used with any

Apple
ORG

service: not iCloud, not iMessage, not Facetime, not

iTunes
ORG

, not anything. I only ever use those email addresses in

Apple
ORG

‘s Mail app (on my

MacBook Pro
ORG

and my iPhone). So my question is, how in the world did

Apple
ORG

get all of those email addresses? Clearly the addresses are stored somewhere in

Apple
ORG

‘s iCloud, because they don’t exist on disk on my Mac mini.

Curiously, I started using another

third
ORDINAL

-party email provider

a few months ago
DATE

, but this email address was not in the list. I don’t know whether that’s because

Apple
ORG

doesn’t have the email address or rather because the list of suggestions in the Internet Accounts Settings is limited to

five
CARDINAL

items.

My use of iCloud is extremely limited. For

many years
DATE

I resisted iCloud entirely, but I finally caved in because many customers of my

Safari
ORG

extension StopTheMadness kept requesting iCloud support. In Settings, I allow StopTheMadness and my other app StopTheFonts to use iCloud and iCloud Drive (the latter of which is strangely a requirement for the

CloudKit
ORG

framework), but no other app is allowed, definitely not Mail or Contacts. And I don’t use

Siri
PERSON

at all. I’ve literally never used

Siri
PERSON

, believe it or not, and disable everything

Siri
PERSON

-related on all of my devices. I also disable analytics sharing with

Apple
ORG

.

Thus, I don’t know how exactly

Apple
ORG

got a hold of my various email addresses. I’m both puzzled and troubled by this.

Apple
ORG

has advertised its commitment to privacy by claiming, "What happens on your

iPhone
ORG

, stays on your iPhone." Unfortunately, however, that doesn’t appear to be true. Something that happened on my

iPhone
ORG

or my

MacBook Pro
ORG

somehow ended up on my Mac mini, and I want to know why. I want to know who or what is responsible for violating my privacy.

If you’re looking to reproduce this issue yourself, you may need to do a fresh, clean operating system install on one of your devices. Otherwise, your list of Internet Accounts in Settings will already be populated, and of course you won’t be offered suggestions for email accounts that are already in the list. That’s probably why this privacy violation hasn’t been noticed until now.