How long until Apple boots apps from its stores for privacy issues?

Apple will inevitably begin enforcing the privacy requirements it has put in place across its ecosystem, meaning developers who attempt to avoid or dissemble their way around these protections should expect action, including removal from the App Store.

What Apple is doing

Everyone recognizes how seriously Apple takes privacy. Statement by statement and all through iterative software and product releases, the company is making it crystal clear that it believes privacy is essential to achieve the potential of digital transformation.

Apple isn’t asking developers to follow its rules for fun and is already semaphoring that enforcement action is coming for those who don’t respect Privacy labels or App Tracking Transparency:

  • On April 21, Apple told developers that any form of tracking must be declared on the relevant App Store Privacy pages and only be performed if permission to track the user is sought and obtained: “As a reminder, collecting device and usage data with the intent of deriving a unique representation of a user, or fingerprinting, continues to be a violation of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement,” it said.
  • You’ll also find an Apple warning that developers are, “responsible for keeping your responses accurate and up to date. If your practices change, update your responses in App Store Connect.”
  • More recently, Apple’s chief privacy engineer, Erik Neuenschwander, responded to claims that Snapchat is seeking some way around Apple’s rules by saying: “…It means that they think they’ve hit upon a way to flout the policies and sneak onto users’ devices and not respect their privacy. That’s something that we are continually on the lookout for with our app review process….It’s a high area of focus for us.”

Any such enforcement may see some popular apps removed from the store. A recent Top10VPN report claims 19 of the top-ranked 20 U.S. VPN apps display inaccurate labels. Some even failed to disclose they collected user IP addresses.

These are precisely the kind of false or misleading statements Apple’s App Store teams will be looking to police. Apple will obey these rules, and expects you to do so, too.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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