Apple’s Latest Updates Prioritize Consumer Privacy

What’s Going on?

Starting on December 9, 2020 Apple and their App Store will help users understand an app’s privacy practices before they download the app on any Apple platform. On each app’s product page, users can learn about some of the data types the app may collect, and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them. Although developers can already share this information through the App Store Connection page of the company, this new policy is a must for any new apps or changes that they send to Apple. With the new regulation, all the data they or their third-party partners gather will have to be identified by developers, unless the data satisfies all the optional disclosure requirements specified.

How is Apple keeping tabs on the data?

Apple said that it would be the duty of developers to keep responses correct and up to date. In the App Store Connect, developers will have to update responses if practices change. The app will not be permitted to access the official iOS App Store or Mac App Store if the data is not given. According to Apple’s new guidelines, data types that meet all of the following criteria will be optional to disclose: 

  • The data is not used for tracking purposes, meaning the data is not linked with Third-Party Data for advertising or advertising measurement purposes, or shared with a data broker. 
  • The data is not used for Third-Party Advertising, Advertising or Marketing purposes, or for Other Purposes, as those terms are defined in the Tracking section.
  • Collection of the data occurs only in infrequent cases that are not part of the app’s primary functionality, and which are optional for the user.
  • The data is provided by the user in the app’s interface, it is clear to the user what data is collected, the user’s name or account name is prominently displayed in the submission form alongside the other data elements being submitted, and the user affirmatively chooses to provide the data for collection each time.

If any of the data collected partially meets the criteria explained above, Apple said the apps still need to disclose that information in the App Store Connect. This specification is where Apple is looking to employ a previously covered topic of “nutritional labels” for apps. Essentially, these labels will tell consumers how their data is being collected, processed, or used in general and these labels will immediately appear on the apps page when a consumer goes to download it. This requirement to disclose third-party data collection, and whether it’s used for tracking will make it easier for users to understand how mobile apps collect personal data.

The labels especially have been receiving a lot of attention because they can become a very popular and commonly used tool for the future and for other app stores or marketplaces to mimic. The goal of the labels is to create a common, easily understandable format for users to see how personal data is collected and used by developers and partners. It will make it easier for users to question whether free services from developers are worth the cost of sharing sensitive personal information. People will be able to easily digest what pros and cons there are to each app.