App developers will soon have to offer a clear privacy policy | Cult of Mac

App developers will soon have to offer a clear privacy policy

By

Coronavirus could have a surprisingly positive impact on App Store revenue
Apple is an outspoken proponent of privacy.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple takes every opportunity to talk up its pro-privacy agenda — and if you’re a developer being hosted in the App Store you’d better show that same level of commitment to users.

According to a new report, Apple has started telling its developers that they will soon need to host a privacy policy in their apps’ metadata. This change will apply to all new apps and app updates from October 3, regardless of whether or not they connect to the internet.

The new privacy policy must make clear the data apps collect, how this is collected, how it is used, how long the data is held, and how users can revoke consent for this data user and have it deleted if they wish. Developers must also make sure that any third-party frameworks used as part of their app complies with this privacy policy.

The company hasn’t revealed whether it will start pulling apps which don’t comply with these ruling. However, since this covers all new updates to existing apps it seems that any halfway decent or relevant app won’t be able to slip through the cracks.

What prompted Apple’s decision?

Apple hasn’t revealed what prompted this change. It could have been triggered by Europe’s GDPR regulation. In the aftermath of GDPR regulation coming in, Apple gave users the ability to download a copy of all the data Apple has collected about them — including App Store and iTunes activity, Apple ID account and device information, online and retail store activity, AppleCare support history, and more.

However, there’s also no doubt that there is a growing concern about the misuse of user data — as most notably seen through the Cambridge Analytica scandal involving Facebook earlier this year. Interestingly, although Apple was never brought up as part of that case, Mark Zuckerberg’s notes for the hearing did mention that there were, “Lots of stories about apps misusing Apple data,” and that Apple had failed to notify people.

Since Zuck did not elaborate on this, it’s impossible to know exactly what he meant by it. It could refer to a 2015 story in which 256 apps were found to have illicitly gather user email addresses, lists of installed apps, serial numbers and other identifying information.

Still, maybe someone at Apple saw that and figured it was better to be safe, rather than sorry!

Source: 9to5Mac