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Apple’s nutrition labels for apps will go live today offering users more insight into data collected

The nutrition labels will be self-reported by developers who will answer a set of questions while submitting or updating apps to provide the information.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 15, 2020 8:52:28 am
Apple, Apple nutrition labels, Apple data privacy, Apple privacy ‘nutrition labels’, iOS 14Apple first announced Privacy Nutrition Labels at WWDC 2020. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple will Tuesday begin showing a nutrition label-like summary of the privacy practices of apps on their product pages. These will be self-reported by developers as announced at the World Wide Developers Conference in June and will include Apple’s own native apps too.

Users will start seeing this information now on all apps across Apple’s operating systems — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS — as Cupertino has made it a mandatory part of the app submission process for all developers.

Apple hopes this will bring in transparency into the apps and help users understand what all data it might gather from them.

However, not everyone is happy. A WhatsApp spokesperson recently said the ‘nutrition labels’ appeared to be “anti-competitive” as Apple’s own native apps like iMessage, which don’t need to be downloaded from the App Store, won’t have to show them. Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp compete with iMessage in many markets.

The nutrition labels will be self-reported by developers who will answer a set of questions while submitting or updating apps to provide the information. There will be resources on offer to help developers fill out this information accurately. After this, the product pages of the app will show the types of data an app could collect and whether the same will be used to track the user or be linked to the user in any way.

Data types will be collected as “data used to track you,” “data linked to you,” and “data not linked to you.” On top of this, users can use iOS features to decide what data access they want to give a certain app.

Developers have self-reported other aspects like the Age Rating for their apps and Apple is certain they will be accurate. However, some might need handholding to get the data right or complete.

Speaking at the European Data Protection and Privacy Conference, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi had said that from early 2021 all apps will have to get explicit user permission to track them across different apps and websites. ”… developers who fail to meet that standard can have their apps taken down from the App Store,” he had warned.

Many companies that have an ad-lead business model feel users will be reluctant to offer permissions and this will lead to a drop in their revenues from Apple’s ecosystem which is very significant in many markets. Countering this criticism, Federighi had said: “When invasive tracking is your business model, you tend not to welcome transparency and customer choice.”

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