What are App Store privacy labels and what are the key factors you need to know so you can check if an app is safe to use? In December, Apple mandated privacy labels for all apps on its App Store. These new labels look to bring more transparency on the type of data collection each app engages in. These new labels are now live under almost every listed app on the App Store under the section called App Privacy. It essentially gives you clarity on the kind of data i.e. purchases, location, contact info, search history, etc that the app may be handling.
Apple updated App Store policies to help users better understand an app's privacy practices before they download the app on any Apple platform. On each app's product page, users can learn about some of the data types an app may collect, and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them. This information can be found on the every app listing under the App Privacy section. Data is categorised into purchases, location, contact info, contacts, user content, search history, identifiers, usage data, diagnostics, and more.
This section gives you clarity on why the data is collected. It lets you know whether the app is collecting data for third-party advertising, developer's advertising or marketing, analytics, product personalisation, improve app functionality, or other purposes.
Unfortunately, the App Store privacy labels are not very easy to discover. Users who aren't aware of the change may not even notice it, as it sits below sections like Screenshots, Description, What's New, and Ratings and Reviews.
However, it is helpful in a time when concerns around data collection have become increasingly important. And while Apple is taking these details from the developers and not checking them independently, it has said that developers who are reported by the community for not admitting to the data collected will face consequences.
This new App Privacy section will contain the name of the developer and a list of all the data that may be collected or linked to you and the data that is used to track you. For instance, Facebook is listed to use your contact information like physical address, email address, name, phone number and identifiers like User ID and Device ID to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies.
Users can click on the ‘See Details' option in the corner of the App Privacy section to see a more detailed breakdown of all of the data that is used and collected by any app.
Types of data have been categorised below:
Data usage has been segmented into different purposes:
Because of this new mandate, app developers are required to submit privacy information when submitting new apps or app updates to the App Store. Some data is optional to disclose if it meets specific criteria, such as certain data from health research apps and regulated financial services. If account holders and admins need help in entering these responses in App Store Connect, they can learn the basics from this Apple Support page.