Apple Launches Privacy Labels For App Store Apps

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Advertiser setback? Apple confirms apps on its App Store will now have to carry labels explaining how user data will be used

Apple has followed through on its promise to implement new privacy rules, with apps on its App Store now required to display a summary of the app’s privacy practices.

Essentially, this ‘nutrition label’ will explain to the user just what the app will do with their personal data, in a move that advertisers are not overly keen on.

Apple had first revealed at its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, 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.

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Data transparency

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.

But Apple’s move had not gone down well with advertisers.

In July 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 not a fan.

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

Then in September Apple confirmed it would delay the implementation of new privacy controls, after the pushback from both Facebook and advertising associations.

Then in November Apple sent a questionnaire to developers inquiring about its data collection practices. Developers who haven’t yet completed it will not be able to update their existing apps until they do so, CNN reported.

Data labels

If data collection practices change after the information is provided, developers will be required to resubmit the questionnaire.

The new labels will also be required for apps on all of its platforms, including iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

And now from this week Apple will now display a summary of an app’s privacy practices before a user downloads it from the App Store.

Apple began deploying these data labels on Monday, and more labels will be added to more apps in the days ahead.

The label reportedly contains three main sections: “data used to track you,” such as information collected for advertising purposes; “data linked to you,” or the data tied to a user’s identity through their account on the app, device, or other details; and “data not linked to you,” which is data collected but not linked to an account, CNN reported.

Apple will also apply these labels to its own apps.

And it should be remembered that this is not the only big privacy change with iOS 14.

Developers will also be required to seek explicit permission to track iOS device users across apps and websites using a unique device identifier, called an IDFA (or Identification for Advertisers) code.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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