As protecting user privacy continues to move up the totem pole of public awareness, Apple has become the latest tech firm to take a stand against sharing location data. As originally reported by 9to5Mac, the iEmpire has begun removing apps from the App Store that are in violation of location data policies. That means that if an app shares your location with third parties without your permission, it’s being kicked off the platform.
As per sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of Apple’s App Store Guidelines, apps cannot share “user location data to third parties without explicit consent from the user [or] for unapproved purposes.” App developers who are not compliant with these guidelines have since received alerts from Apple, informing them that they are breaking the rules “upon re-evaluation.” The company also notes that developers are required to do away with any code, frameworks, or SDKs that violate the Guidelines before they can resubmit their app to the App Store.
As 9to5Mac notes, the apps that have been called out thus far don’t do a sufficient job in explaining to users what actually happens to and with their data. It’s not enough for apps to only ask for permission for user information — rather, Apple also wants developers to tell users how their data will ultimately be leveraged and with whom it will be shared. And in cases where data is used for “purposes unrelated to improving the user experience,” Apple is pulling the plug, too.
Indeed, the Guidelines are quite explicit in noting that apps must provide “access to information about how and where the data will be used,” and that “data collected from apps may not be used or shared with third parties for purposes unrelated to improving the user experience or software/hardware performance connected to the app’s functionality.”
It’s not entirely clear how many apps have been affected by this crackdown, but we will update this post as we learn more.
Apple isn’t the only company that is taking a closer look at location data. Just a few weeks ago, Uber announced new changes that end the ridesharing company’s practice of sharing exact pick-up and drop-off location with drivers.