Apple Launches New App Store Privacy Labels So You Can See How iOS Apps Use Your Data

Apple is officially launching its so-called “nutrition label” privacy disclosures for all iOS device owners running the latest version of iOS 14. The Verge reports:

Apple says the new labels will be required for apps on all of its platforms – that includes iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS – and they will have to be up to date and accurate every time a developer submits a new update. Apple is also holding itself to the same standard, something the company clarified last week when Facebook-owned WhatsApp criticized the company for an apparent inconsistency in its requirements, before Apple said it, too, will provide labels for all its own software. The company’s own first-party apps will all have the same disclosures on their App Store product pages. In the event an app doesn’t have an App Store product page because it cannot be removed, like the Messages app, Apple says it will be providing privacy label information on the web. Every piece of software on the App Store will also have its privacy label viewable on the web, too.

As for how the labels are structured, Apple has broken down data collection into three categories: “data used to track you,” “data linked to you,” and “data not linked to you.” Tracking in this context means the app developer is linking data from the app – like personal information, or data collected from your device, such as location data – with other data from other companies’ apps or websites for the purpose of targeted advertising or some other ad-related metric. Apple says it’s also using the term tracking here to mean sharing user or device information with companies that sell it, like data brokers.

The “data linked to you” portion of the label is any data that can be used to identify you. That means data gleaned from using the app or having an account with the service or platform, and any data pulled from the device itself that could be used to create a profile for advertising purposes. “Data not linked to you” is the portion of the privacy label that clarifies when certain data types, like location data or browsing history, are not being linked to you in any identifiable fashion. Apple has specific, developer-focused information on the new labels at its developer portal page, with more general information available on the consumer-facing page.

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