Apple limiting third-party tracking in Kids apps in App Store policy change

Posted:
in iOS edited May 31
Apple will help safeguard the privacy of younger iPhone and iPad users, a report claims, by announcing a change at WWDC that will limit third-party tracking within apps offered in the iOS App Store's Kids category, a move that may help put some privacy critics at ease.




Privacy has become a bigger issue in recent years, especially following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with more people becoming concerned about how their data is tracked and used by companies. The same concerns are also made about the plethora of apps available to both adult and younger mobile device users, with the latter likely not to be as concerned about data security as their parents and guardians.

A person familiar with the matter told Wall Street Journal Apple will be making changes to its policies to limit the ability to include third-party tracking in apps destined for the App Store's Kids category.

While Apple did not comment on the story, a prepared statement advises "For privacy and security reasons, Apple does not see what data users choose to share with developers and we can't see what developers do on their servers."

In recent months, the tracking of consumer data has surfaced as a pressing concern by privacy advocates, including how much data gets shared within apps. One report in February tested a variety of apps reported data back to Facebook that wouldn't normally be expected to be shared, including financial and health data, while another test in December 2018 showed some apps were sharing data with up to 40 third-party entities.

Privacy of younger users has led to the unexpected removal of parental control apps from the App Store, which Apple cited was due to privacy concerns and misusing enterprise tools. Apple CEO Tim Cook has promised an expansion of Screen Time, which may make an appearance during WWDC.

Parental control app developers are urging Apple to release a form of specialized API that would enable their apps to continue working, but without infringing on the younger user's privacy.

Starting on June 3 and running until June 7, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference will be the venue for all of Apple's major operating system and software launches. AppleInsider will be at the conference before, during, and after the keynote.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    Privacy has become a bigger issue in recent years, especially following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with more people becoming concerned about how their data is tracked and used by companies. The same concerns are also made about the plethora of apps available to both adult and younger mobile device users, with the latter likely not to be as concerned about data security as their parents and guardians.
    I agree that privacy has become a bigger issue, but I still know a ton of people who say they don't care about any of that and they'll continue to use {fill in privacy invading app or service here}. All of those people are adults, parents or guardians, by the way.

    A person familiar with the matter told Wall Street Journal Apple will be making changes to its policies to limit the ability to include third-party tracking in apps destined for the App Store's Kids category. 
    How about offering a category of apps that don't include third-party tracking at all. I would rather pay for an app with no tracking than get it for free and be secretly tracked by it.
  • Reply 2 of 5
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 375member
    A change in policy, or any policy, without software and hardware enforcement with worthless. 

    Well, maybe not worthless. It's typical PR which too many believe has a substantive reality. 
  • Reply 3 of 5
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    The biggest privacy invasion across iOS is contact upload. Apple should figure out a new way to limit how this feature works. No user should be allowed upload another user’s contact card without their permission. There’s just too much private information there, including related kids cards and ages etc.
    blah64
  • Reply 4 of 5
    blah64blah64 Posts: 928member
    ireland said:
    The biggest privacy invasion across iOS is contact upload. Apple should figure out a new way to limit how this feature works. No user should be allowed upload another user’s contact card without their permission. There’s just too much private information there, including related kids cards and ages etc.
    Holy crap, thank you Ireland.

    I've been preaching this to people for YEARS, and while some people kinda sorta get it, no one wants to be bothered thinking about it.

    From a data privacy standpoint in the last decade, some of your worst enemies are your friends and family.  Yes, those loved ones with whom you share all your personal moments and stories.  Those with whom you share all your intimate details, addresses, birthdays, relationship data, home phone, cell phone, work phone, emergency contact phone, company and work title, kids' names and ages and birthdays, unknown random personal notes that they enter about you, etc., etc.  

    And with a single tap of a button, ALL of that data goes directly to facebook, or google, or some random app maker in China that asks for permission in the latest flappy bird clone, and people just tap Yes without thinking.

    Here's a serious question for you, since it sounds like you care (as I do).  What do you do about this in everyday life?  Do you ask people you meet to not share your personal information with data mining companies?  How about family?  It's not an easy conversation.  I've taken a hard stance on this crap, and it can sometimes make life difficult.  But the alternative is extremely troubling, and forever indelible.
    edited June 1
  • Reply 5 of 5
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    blah64 said:
    ireland said:
    The biggest privacy invasion across iOS is contact upload. Apple should figure out a new way to limit how this feature works. No user should be allowed upload another user’s contact card without their permission. There’s just too much private information there, including related kids cards and ages etc.
    Holy crap, thank you Ireland.

    I've been preaching this to people for YEARS, and while some people kinda sorta get it, no one wants to be bothered thinking about it.

    From a data privacy standpoint in the last decade, some of your worst enemies are your friends and family.  Yes, those loved ones with whom you share all your personal moments and stories.  Those with whom you share all your intimate details, addresses, birthdays, relationship data, home phone, cell phone, work phone, emergency contact phone, company and work title, kids' names and ages and birthdays, unknown random personal notes that they enter about you, etc., etc.  

    And with a single tap of a button, ALL of that data goes directly to facebook, or google, or some random app maker in China that asks for permission in the latest flappy bird clone, and people just tap Yes without thinking.

    Here's a serious question for you, since it sounds like you care (as I do).  What do you do about this in everyday life?  Do you ask people you meet to not share your personal information with data mining companies?  How about family?  It's not an easy conversation.  I've taken a hard stance on this crap, and it can sometimes make life difficult.  But the alternative is extremely troubling, and forever indelible.
    Honestly, however troubling you find it, trying to control it all will like cause you far more trouble. The iMessage and email accounts you use and give to people, don’t use those for social networks. This should alleviate some identifiable information. I wouldn’t waste your energy telling people to not share your data. Just limit who you share it with and keep social network email logins separate. 

    Next, I’d do with I do and write a simple and short email to Apple’s top brass, and Apple’s iPhone feedback page. Contact databases have been called the Wild West of data mining, so the best thing we can really do is bring attention to this issue. The TWS guy brought that issue to the fore and changed the world in the process. Rest assured, if this contact book thing is an issue, sooner or later it will get attention and will have to be addressed. I’d focus on getting the message about this issue out there, but let go of trying to control it on a small scale with relations and that. The issue we have is with Apple and iOS. Focus bigger picture. Let go of small stuff.
    edited June 2 gatorguy
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