Report: App Store Privacy Labels of Many Apps Found to be Inaccurate

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 29 Jan 2021

ios 14 privacy app store labels

iOS 14 brings in many privacy-related features like App Tracking Transparency, approximate location, clipboard access warnings. One of the key privacy feature introduced with iOS 14 was ‘Privacy Labels’ on the Apple App Store.

These labels, Apple claims, require app developers to disclose what kind of data an app collects. The labels also show what kind of data an app collects, but isn’t linked to your account. Apple’s goal with these labels was to inform users of the privacy practices of individual applications. But, it seems like that isn’t the case.

A new report from The Washington Post claims that some of the labels are inaccurate. Geoffrey downloaded an app, called Satisfying Slime Simulator, from the App Store which has the highest-level label for privacy on the App Store. He wrote,

“It turned out to be the wrong kind of slimy, covertly sending information — including a way to track my iPhone — to Facebook, Google and other companies. Behind the scenes, apps can be data vampires, probing our phones to help target ads or sell information about us to data firms and even governments.”

He started his research by using a network diagnostic software, called Privacy Pro, to check what was going on behind. The Slime Simulator, he notes, doesn’t have any kind of data label on the App Store — it shows ‘No Data Collected.’ But, with the software he used, he noticed that the app was sending data to Google and Facebook, behind the scenes.

Some of the apps like Match 3D, he used, have a privacy label ‘Analytics’ under ‘Data Not Linked to You,’ which essentially means that the data tracked by the app cannot be linked back to your phone since it doesn’t collect any identification, as the developer says. But, he found that the app was sending a special ID from his phone to many advertising agencies.

He also notes that Apple for each app, subtly, writes “This information has not been verified by Apple.” He also says that Apple has designed these privacy labels in a way that lets them hide the whole truth.

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What are your thoughts on Apple App Store privacy labels? Do you check what kind of data an app collects before downloading it? Do let us know in the comment section below!

[Via The Washington Post]