Apple will start banning developers who collect contact information from a user’s address book to build a database and then sell, share this with third-parties like advertisers, data companies. The App Store Review guidelines now specifically bar developers from creating a database with information from contacts of iPhone users, according to a report on Bloomberg.
The recent move comes even as Apple has turned off tracking of users via Like, Share buttons in upcoming iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. Apple had made the software-related announcements at its Worldwide Developer conference (WWDC) which took place on June 4, 2018. The new updates in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave will make it harder for sites like Facebook to track users on Safari.
According to Apple’s App Store Review guidelines, developers are told, “Do not use information from Contacts, Photos, or other APIs that access user data to build a contact database for your own use or for sale/distribution to third parties.” The guidelines also warn developers against “collecting information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing.”
The guidelines further state that a developer should not contact people “using information collected via a user’s Contacts or Photos, except at the explicit initiative of that user on an individualized basis.” For app developers, the new guidelines will come as a setback. It also says that a developer cannot lie to a user about using their contact list for one purpose, and doing something completely different. Apple’s review guidelines make it clear that those who break these could be removed from the store.
There are many apps that require access to contact list from iPhone, iPad users, and this is very valuable data, considering it includes information like email, mobile numbers, name, etc. For instance, social networking apps like Facebook or Snapchat could ask a user to sync their contacts to help recommend friends, etc.
But it should be clear that any data that would have already been shared with a developer, cannot be retrieved. Meaning that if developers have made databases from your contact information, it is not possible to retrieve this now. However, Apple’s move will mean that going forward developers cannot do the same, without risking a ban.
Apple’s iOS has had app permissions for a while. Users can decide which apps will get permission to data like Contacts, Photos, Camera, Audio, etc. Users can go to Privacy settings on their iPhone and turn off access for a particular app.