To ensure no privacy issues in iPhones whatsoever, Apple is taking some hard steps on all the third-party apps on the iOS platform. Apple is telling all the app developers to either remove or properly disclose any code that records user interaction on iPhones. Apple said that the use of such analytics code without proper disclosure to use will be out of App Store Guidelines. The report was confirmed by TechCrunch that disclosed an email from Apple.
The Apple spokesperson said in the email, “Protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.” The spokesperson further added, “we have notified the developers that are in violation of these strict privacy terms and guidelines, and will take immediate action if necessary.
The investigation by TechCrunch following the decision from Apple revealed that some major companies including, but not limited to, Hotels.com, Expedia, and Hollister are using some third party analytic tools functioned to record every swipe and tap made by the user inside these apps. TechCrunch further confirmed that none of the apps tested by them asked user permission or mentioned anywhere in their Privacy Policies that all user app activity is being recorded.
While personal and sensitive information should be masked, some data, including credit card numbers, and passport numbers, was leaking — directly hurting user privacy.
Screen Recording Analytic Tools
But Apple has openly forbidden apps collecting user data without consent.
TechCrunch said Apple already notified some app developers that their apps have been found violating app store rules. A famous app developer said that Apple has asked to remove application interaction recording code immediately citing that it is against the company’s guidelines.
“Your app uses analytics software to collect and send user or device data to a third party without the user’s consent. Apps must request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity,” Apple said in the email.
Apple gave less than a day to the developer for removing the code and app resubmission, failing which will result in removal of the app from the store.
Android Apps and Screen Recording Rules
Glassbox has declined the information of any such removal of the code from the apps. Upon asking if they were informed, Glassbox said that “communication with Apple is through our customers.”
Note that Glassbox also serves many Android app developers. Google is yet to announce any screen recording ban on the Android but we know that Google Play is also strictly against secret data collection. The developer rules of Google Play state, “Apps must not hide or cloak tracking behavior or attempt to mislead users about such functionality.” If Apple has expressly banned such behavior and activities, we may hear something from Google soon.