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Apple now requires app developers to disclose data collection and privacy info

Apple has always considered user privacy one of its core principles, often messaging (and marketing) that it feels it has a strong user-focused approach to privacy that differentiates it from other tech companies. The company announced new privacy initiatives at the Wordwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, and today one of the biggest parts goes into effect: App developers are now required to  their policies on collecting users’ data right in their App Store listing.

Starting today, App Store listings will now have a clear and concise “App Privacy” breakdown of the data collected by the app and how that data is used by the developer. Users will see a breakdown of “Data Used to Track You” (data that could identify and follow you between apps) and “Data Linked to You” (data that will be tied to your device or accounts). Under each section, you’ll see a brief list of categories like contact info, location, personal identifiers, financial info, purchases, and more.

App Store privacy information

Developers were already required to have a privacy policy written as part of their App Store submission, and any changes to that policy are subject to App Store review. But as we all know, it’s very tough to get people to actually scroll down and tap to view the policy — let alone slog through the wall of legal text thereafter.

With Apple’s new layout, privacy information is provided front and center, similar to an app’s reviews or update change log. While most people will probably skip it and just download based on the design, features, and ratings, it’s a big step in the right direction of making people just a bit more aware of what data apps can collect. Perhaps seeing this information upfront before downloading an app can lead to more questions asked, and more developers being held accountable for what they’re doing. Knowledge is power.

This policy is applicable across the App Store on iOS, iPad OS, and MacOS. And while the individual breakdown of privacy information is self-reported by the developer, Apple says it’s had success with self-reporting in other areas, such as age ratings for apps. And of course, if you need to know the exact details, you can always view the fully vetted privacy policy.

In addition to implementing these App Store policies, Apple’s revamping its own privacy page, where it gives a breakdown of privacy, tracking, and data collection policies for each of its apps. Apple’s always been rather transparent about this sort of information, but it’s great to see it lead by example, going above and beyond with its own page. Apple’s own apps will also be subject to the privacy information disclosure in the App Store, though I can bet there won’t be any privacy revelations to be found there.

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