Apple has announced that products featured on its App Store will now be required to provide information on the data they collect and use.
Officially rolled-out on Monday 14th December, the app store changes will affect all Apple platforms, including iOS, iPadOS and macOS.
The new changes were announced in June at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference and initially saw developers required to highlight privacy practices. Last month, Apple warned that developers would be required to provide data collection information by the 8th December, else risk losing the ability to update products.
For customers, the new labels will be featured at the top of each product page and provide greater transparency over what data is being collected.
Information collected by many apps includes location data and contact information, which is then used to track users and cater advertising to them.
Health and fitness data – as well as financial information and search histories – can also be linked to a user. Under the new rules, Apple said customers will be informed whether data is linked to them.
David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky, commented: “Under GDPR, if a company wishes to process someone’s data they must have consent; and this consent must be ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’.
“Apple’s new privacy labels for apps will enable people to see what data an app collects and if it’s able to track them – thus adding a level of transparency that has so often been lacking. This will help people to make informed decisions about whether they are comfortable with the level of tracking or data collection an app would involve.”
Long-term, Apple suggested it hopes to instil a greater awareness of privacy and data collection among users. Chief Executive Tim Cook has been outspoken on the issue of privacy and in recent months has criticised the use of data by other major tech companies.
This latest update from Apple could be followed in quick succession by more privacy-focused changes. The tech giant also announced it plans to release new features aimed at further improving privacy and transparency.
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These changes will see developers forced to ask iPhone users for tracking permission. Currently, many apps track users automatically, and customers are forced to change settings for each app manually.
Apple had hoped to include these new features with the iOS 14 launch. However, in September the company confirmed it would delay the changes to give developers more time to comply.