Apple is including privateness labels that present what data apps accumulate about customers

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, gives a keynote speech during the European Union’s data protection conference in the EU Parliament on October 24, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

Yves Herman | Reuters

Apple updated its App Store on Monday to display “privacy labels” listing the information iPhone apps collect about users.

The labels are clearly displayed below a button to download the app. Most apps get up to three labels based on information that app makers need to send Apple to update their apps.

The move is the latest in a long line of new features Apple has introduced to limit ad tracking and other methods of collecting user data from iPhone users. In recent years, Apple has increasingly relied on privacy features to differentiate its products from competitors, including phone manufacturers using Google’s Android.

Monday’s announcement is an important privacy feature for the App Store. This is the only way for software manufacturers to distribute iPhone apps. It’s an example of how Apple uses control of its operating system to pressure third-party developers to comply with Apple’s privacy standards.

The labels first announced in June, however, have been criticized by app manufacturers who make money with ads. This is because ad apps may be labeled “data that is tracking you” which can prevent users from downloading the app.

For example, Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp said in a blog post last week that Apple’s privacy label for its app doesn’t fully describe how the messaging service uses user data.

The labels include:

  • Data that will track you: Developers can link user data collected by the app with information from outside the app, such as: B. with other apps or websites to frequently show targeted ads or to measure the effectiveness of ads.
  • Data associated with you: Developers collect information associated with your device, account, or identity.
  • Data not associated with you: Developers can collect data but say they don’t associate the information they collect with your account or device identifier.
  • No data collected: Apps that do not collect any information about the user.
  • No information available: This label is reserved for apps that have not been updated since the requirement became effective. However, most of the apps currently in development are updated regularly, so the privacy labels are on most of the apps in the store, according to Apple.

Each app sent to the App Store must provide information on how to create these labels

Apple

The new labels clearly indicate what types of user data, such as location or contact information, are used for what purposes.

“Apple believes users deserve to better know and control their location data,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software, in a speech last week, adding that some users do not know that they provide this data such as location to apps and the iPhone enables the deactivation of location data or other specific types of access to data app by app.

Apple said its intent with its labels is to give users the information they need to make decisions about which apps they are comfortable using.

Apple’s own apps are labeled according to the same criteria as third-party developers. Apple apps that can be downloaded from the App Store are given labels on their download pages. For other Apple apps built into the phone, such as For example, news, the same information is posted on the Apple website.

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