Privacy Nutrition Labels From Apple

December 28, 2020

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Apple App Store Privacy Nutrition Label

In a large push toward data transparency for non-technical people to more easily make informed decisions on their privacy choices when it comes to software and services, Apple is rolling out their App Store Privacy Details feature. It's popularly been likened to something like a nutrition label for privacy. A nutrition label tells you how much sugar and carbs and vitamins your food has, and this privacy label will tell you some of the privacy facts about an App you want to download. Announced during the last WWDC, you'll see apps on the Mac or iOS App Stores providing specific details on the information that is collected from users. Now you'll have a better idea of what data is collected when an App is downloaded and used. Much of this information would have already been available through an App's privacy policy or website, but now is available in a more easily accessible form. Let's face it: not everybody reads the privacy policy or TOS of every service they use, so this is a privacy win.

Developers now need to provide details on what types of data the app collects from customers and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them and is displayed on the Store page in a more digestible form. New Apps are required to have this information before the App gets posted to customers, and existing developers must give Apple this information to submit App updates for new versions of existing Apps. However, existing Apps that haven't been updated recently may not have this information right away. One potential weakness of this feature is that developers are required to self-report the information which can potentially be misleading if a nefarious actor was less than honest. Still, it's a major step in the right direction to take previously existing information on personal privacy and make it avaialable to people in a simple-to-understand format. Hopefully this will get more people aware of the privacy concerns from the Apps that they share so much of their lives with.

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