Google To Add Privacy Labels To Its iOS App Portfolio

Google is to add privacy labels to its iOS app portfolio to provide users with a simple summary of the app’s data tracking practices.

Last month Apple implemented a ‘nutrition label’ for apps on its App Store to explain to the user just what the app will do with their personal data, in a move that advertisers are not all happy with.

And now in a further blow to advertisers, TechCrunch has confirmed Google is not opposing these privacy labels, and is in fact preparing to them roll out across its iOS app portfolio as soon as this week or the next.

Privacy labels

This means that Gmail for iOS, or Google Search or iOS, will soon carry labels explaining to users how data is collected and used to track them.

It comes after it was reported elsewhere in the media that Google has slowed down updating its iOS apps, because it was not ready to be transparent about the data it collects from its users.

But now it has been confirmed that Google is not opposing Apple’s requirement for privacy labels, even though the search engine giant makes most of its money from advertising.

A Google spokesperson confirmed to Techcrunch that the company has a plan to add privacy labels across its app catalogue. They also confirmed the labels are expected to begin rolling out as soon as this week or next week, though an exact date is not yet available.

But make no mistake, there is plenty of unease with Apple’s move to clearly explain how apps use people’s data.

Alarm for advertisers was triggered at Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2020, when the iPhone maker revealed that with iOS 14, app developers would need to provide more information about the data they collect on users, with Apple displaying a summary of how apps use data such as location or tracking information.

Essentially, apps would be required to show a pop-up label before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalised ads. Essentially the labels will detail financial and location information, to browsing and purchase history.

Apple said that the new feature was aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used.

Advertiser concern

Apple’s move did not go down well with advertisers, and in July 2020, a group of European digital advertising associations criticised Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules.

Developers were previously required to have a privacy policy and link it to their App Store product page, but the new labels will now package this privacy policy into a more visual format. They will be displayed near reviews and details about in-app purchases.

And Facebook (which depends on advertising for a large portion of its revenues) is also not a fan.

In August 2020 Facebook warned that while Apple’s new privacy rules would spare its own apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, it would impact smaller developers.

Apple in September last year said it would delay the implementation of its new privacy controls, after the pushback from both Facebook and advertising associations.

Despite that delay, the iPad maker went ahead and implemented the new privacy controls in mid December.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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