Apple’s new privacy “nutrition labels”: What does this mean for app developers & App Store submissions

–– 24 Jun 2020

Later this year, the Apple App Store will help people understand an app’s privacy practices before they download the app in an easy readable form, a bit like a “nutrition label” we see when shopping in the supermarket. 

For app developers you will be required to provide information about some of your app’s data collection practices on your product page. 

So, what does this mean for app developers and those submitting an app to the Apple app store?

A new privacy “nutrition label” 

Apple now requires new digestible privacy info from app developers so people can better understand how apps collect and use their data. Users will be able to learn about some of the data types an app collects, and whether the information is used to track them or is linked to their identity or device. 

It’s a move away from having users try to find information about tracking in privacy policies, which we (and Apple) know most people don’t read, because they’re complicated and difficult to understand. 

What information do I need to submit?

There are two main categories: Data linked to a user and data used to track a user.

Data used to track a user

You will need to understand and submit any data that is used to track a user. This includes things like contact information, location and identifiers. This is also related to other apps and websites. 

For example, if you use third-party code — such as advertising or analytics SDKs — you’ll also need to describe what data the third-party code collects, how the data may be used, and whether the data is used to track users. 

Data Linked to a User

You will need to understand and submit information about how their data is linked to their accounts, devices or identity. This could be things like financial information, location, purchases, browsing history. 

A sample of what an app’s data collection information box will look like. Apple

App product page

On each app’s product page, the ‘privacy label’ will be clearly shown to users who can learn about the data types an app may collect, and whether the information is used to track them or linked to their identity or device.

You can think of these new ‘privacy labels’ as a way of distilling your privacy policy to a user in an easily readable form. 

So what does this mean for my app & developers?

Well, get your house in order. You will need to understand exactly what, how and why your app collects users’ data.

This can range from how data is linked to other third parties, to what data is used to track a user. Mapping out how your app links and interacts with third parties will be key.

From a commercial perspective, you may wish to consider that if a user sees you plan on tracking and collecting their personal data, then they may not want to download your app. Try building your app with privacy by design, or find ways to reduce data tracking and collection.

A positive step 

We really welcome Apple’s move to help user’s understand an app’s privacy and how their data will be used and linked to an app. 

Education and increasing data literacy will be key to the success of this move, let’s be honest nutrition labels are not always clear, especially if you don’t understand what the information means. It’s certainly a positive step and one we hope Android will follow soon.

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