Apple’s privacy labels: what you need to know

When it comes to how applications on our Macs and iPhones use our data, many Apple users have, for a long time, felt concerned about what exact information is being reviewed, stored, and processed by these third party groups. 

In an effort to counter this, and provide its customers with more transparency around their data, in December 2020, Apple introduced its own ‘data privacy labels’ for any apps it has on its App Store. 

App developers must now give Apple an exact rundown of their privacy policies, so that the company can give its users easily digestible information about what information every app collects, has access to, and, perhaps most importantly what they do with this knowledge. If developers refuse to comply, they risk losing the ability to update their apps. In addition, even Apple’s own apps that aren’t offered on the App Store will have their privacy labels published on the web.

How are the labels structured?

Apple has helpfully broken down the data collection into three categories; “data used to track you”, “data linked to you”, and “data not linked to you.” The labels are prominently displayed underneath a button to download the app. 

Much like nutrition labels, with this glanceable summary system, Apple hopes it will be clear to consumers how ‘healthy’ each app is to have on your phone with regards to privacy.

Data used to track you refers to any app that is collecting any form of personal information, location data, or data from your device and linking it with other companies’ websites or apps, mainly for the purpose of allowing this other website to provide you with targeted advertisements. This aspect alone will expose the industry of third-party adtech and data brokerage. 

Data linked to you on the other hand refers to any data that can be used to identify you. Not only does this include metrics like financial details, or email addresses, it also includes any data taken from the device that could be used to create a shadow profile of you for advertising purposes. For example, if you use a clothes shopping app and are most often looking for female items, the app can work out you are most likely a female. It might then advertise only sales of women’s clothes to you when you go on the app.

Data not linked to you refers to data collected by an app like location data or browsing history, which does not identify you in any significant way, for example the device you’re using and how often you use the app. 

With these disclosures clearly visible on each app’s page, users will be able to make informed decisions and avoid data-hogging applications.

What’s more, in 2021, as part of its drive to make privacy the heart of its brand, Apple also said that apps that engage in cross-app tracking will now have to request a special permission from users going forward.

Will the new privacy labels make you think twice before downloading an app? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries tweet @techtroublesho1.

You can also read this post to learn five easy ways you can boost the privacy settings on your iPhone.

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