Apple has tightened its App Store rules to protect users’ from developers who obtain, harvest, and sell their data to third parties, reported Bloomberg. Historically, developers ask for access to users’ data to use within their own app and then harvest the data on users’ digital address book — without asking for the explicit consent of the users or their contacts.
The guidelines state that developers cannot harvest users’ data to build a database for sale to third parties. Developers can still ask users for access to contacts for use within their own app but have to inform users’ exactly what their data will be used for. If they have another purpose at hand, they have to ask explicit permission for it. When a user gives permission to an app to access their contacts, the developer can harvest essential information such as names and phone numbers, work and home addresses, email address, and birth-dates. They can even access photographs attached with a contact. or collect. Additionally, developers cannot access information about which other apps are installed on a users’ device for analytics and advertising.
Anybody caught breaking the rules will be banned from App Store.
The review comes soon after Facebook got into trouble for sharing friends’ data with third-party developer Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-linked political consultancy. The review changes suggest that Apple may be trying to avoid a similar data breach of its users. Note that although Apple is being proactive now, it cannot retrieve data that developers have already gathered. After giving permission, an Apple user can turn off the permission but has no control over the data already harvested.
Note that the guidelines were reviewed last week without any fuss or public announcement, even with an annual developers’ conference being held at its headquarters last week.
Apple continues to needle Facebook
At its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) last week, Apple took a direct shot at Facebook’s ubiquitous little trackers onstage. Apple’s VP of software Craig Federighi while describing Safari’s new anti-tracking features said, “We’ve all seen these like buttons and share buttons. Well, it turns out, these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not. So this year, we’re shutting that down.”