US House advises Apple to improve app privacy nutrition label accuracy

Posted:
in General Discussion
A U.S. House committee has penned a letter to Apple asking about the accuracy of the self-reported privacy "nutrition labels" on the App Store.

Credit: AppleInsider
Credit: AppleInsider


The letter, sent by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Tuesday, inquires about recent media reports that many "nutrition labels" contain misleading or false information.

"A privacy label is no protection if it is false," the letter reads. "We urge Apple to improve the validity of its App Privacy labels to ensure consumers are provided meaningful information about their apps' data practices and that consumers are not harmed by these potentially deceptive practices."

The House committee has asked Apple to provide information about the App Store privacy system, including details on Apple's "auditing" process and whether the company takes enforcement action if an app doesn't provide accurate information. It asks Apple to provide answers by Feb. 23, 2021.

In response to reports that nutrition label information is inaccurate, Apple said that "apps that fail to disclose privacy information accurately may have future app updates rejected, or in some cases, be removed from the App Store entirely if they don't come into compliance."

The company has said that it routinely audits the privacy "nutrition labels" and works with developers to correct false or misleading information. Of course, with the number of apps on the App Store, it's not feasible for Apple to routinely correct each app.

Developers were required to submit privacy information on Dec. 8, 2020, to have apps or app updates accepted on the App Store. However, the information is self-reported by developers -- and the accuracy of it is largely based on an honor system.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    So Congress wants label accuracy but at the same time many in Congress also want a third party app store. 

    By asking for label accuracy in the Apple App store, Congress is nailing the coffin shut on third party app stores.
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    Wow wow wow. Congress is behind privacy labels? Excellent. So now they need to get off this anti-trust nonsense. We have choices. Apple does good things for those who choose to be iPhone owners. They aren’t perfect and make mistakes but I feel safer in the ecosystem. I also love that fact that most Apple products just work and work well together. I digress. 

    I’m happy to hear that Congress is focused on privacy. No more complaining about encryption. Lol.

    You can’t have it both ways. 
    applguywilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Agree w/ the others -- "You're too powerful a competitor!" and also "But give us more!"
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 13
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,072member
    Shouldn’t they be sending a letter to Facebook to enquire about their lack of privacy instead?
    pujones1williamlondonlkruppDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    badmonk said:
    Shouldn’t they be sending a letter to Facebook to enquire about their lack of privacy instead?
    That would require common sense and integrity. Maybe next election cycle.
    pujones1williamlondonlkruppDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,538member
    badmonk said:
    Shouldn’t they be sending a letter to Facebook to enquire about their lack of privacy instead?
    The thing is that Facebook (or Google for that matter) never claim the security and privacy of their users data as a selling point for their products or services. Consumers that uses their products or services, have no expectation that their personal data will be secure and private, when using their products or services.

    However, Apple do use the privacy and security of their users personal data as a selling point for their iDevices on iOS. Therefore, Apple should be held to a higher standard when it comes to proving that the personal data of consumers using  their products and services are as private and secure as claimed.

    Therefore, as stated from other commenters above, Government should not force Apple to allow third party app stores or the downloading of apps from the internet on their iDevices, if they are so concern about the privacy of consumers personal data and the validity of Apple's claim that the personal data of their users are more private and secure than on other companies like products or services. And then expect Apple to do something about it if the users data on their iDevices are not as private and secure as claimed. The choice should be Apple's, as to whether to stop making such a claim or making sure the the users personal data on their iDevices are as secure and private as claimed. Even if it means not allowing third party app stores or downloading of apps from the internet on their iDevices, which would make iDevices inherently less secure. All one has to do is to look at Android devices, as proof. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    Um... thanks. Now, fuck off. 
    lkruppdesignrDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    So Congress wants label accuracy but at the same time many in Congress also want a third party app store. 

    By asking for label accuracy in the Apple App store, Congress is nailing the coffin shut on third party app stores.
    I think that Congress' request that Apple take steps to ensure that "consumers are not harmed by these potentially deceptive practices" is not the same as Congress advocating for privacy labels - they are not asking Google and Amazon to offer something similar for apps in Google Play and Amazon AppStore, for instance. False or incorrect nutrition labels can be very dangerous and harmful to consumer privacy... more so if the app developer intentionally intended it to be misleading.

    Now, a third party app store simply has to mirror Google and Amazon by not requiring developers to be transparent about the data they collect and how they use it (aka does not require privacy nutrition labels) and that app store operator will have a flood of app developers, like Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify, and many ad supported apps migrating from Apple's App Store. Interestingly, I don't think that Google would be among the first to move their apps from Apple's App Store to a third party app store with more relaxed regulations.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,093member
    So Congress wants label accuracy but at the same time many in Congress also want a third party app store. 

    By asking for label accuracy in the Apple App store, Congress is nailing the coffin shut on third party app stores.
    Not seeing the connection here.  Why can't a third party store have app privacy labels, and why wouldn't Congress be able to demand that they be accurate?

    And also you do realize that the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce is small subset of all members of Congress, and that those members may not share the viewpoints of other members of Congress?
    edited February 2021
  • Reply 10 of 13
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,093member

    badmonk said:
    Shouldn’t they be sending a letter to Facebook to enquire about their lack of privacy instead?
    Maybe you missed this:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-congress/facebooks-zuckerberg-grilled-in-u-s-congress-on-digital-currency-privacy-elections-idUSKBN1X2167
  • Reply 11 of 13
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,093member

    pujones1 said:
    Wow wow wow. Congress is behind privacy labels? Excellent. So now they need to get off this anti-trust nonsense. We have choices. Apple does good things for those who choose to be iPhone owners. They aren’t perfect and make mistakes but I feel safer in the ecosystem. I also love that fact that most Apple products just work and work well together. I digress. 

    I’m happy to hear that Congress is focused on privacy. No more complaining about encryption. Lol.

    You can’t have it both ways. 
    Yes you can have both accurate labeling of data collection policies and a requirement that the government be able to access encrypted data.  Not seeing how one prevents the other. 
  • Reply 12 of 13
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,093member

    davidw said:
    badmonk said:
    Shouldn’t they be sending a letter to Facebook to enquire about their lack of privacy instead?
    The thing is that Facebook (or Google for that matter) never claim the security and privacy of their users data as a selling point for their products or services. Consumers that uses their products or services, have no expectation that their personal data will be secure and private, when using their products or services.

    However, Apple do use the privacy and security of their users personal data as a selling point for their iDevices on iOS. Therefore, Apple should be held to a higher standard when it comes to proving that the personal data of consumers using  their products and services are as private and secure as claimed.

    Therefore, as stated from other commenters above, Government should not force Apple to allow third party app stores or the downloading of apps from the internet on their iDevices, if they are so concern about the privacy of consumers personal data and the validity of Apple's claim that the personal data of their users are more private and secure than on other companies like products or services. And then expect Apple to do something about it if the users data on their iDevices are not as private and secure as claimed. The choice should be Apple's, as to whether to stop making such a claim or making sure the the users personal data on their iDevices are as secure and private as claimed. Even if it means not allowing third party app stores or downloading of apps from the internet on their iDevices, which would make iDevices inherently less secure. All one has to do is to look at Android devices, as proof. 
    Really?  Google seems to go to great lengths to market their privacy controls: https://safety.google/privacy/privacy-controls/




  • Reply 13 of 13
    flydog said:

    badmonk said:
    Shouldn’t they be sending a letter to Facebook to enquire about their lack of privacy instead?
    Maybe you missed this:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-congress/facebooks-zuckerberg-grilled-in-u-s-congress-on-digital-currency-privacy-elections-idUSKBN1X2167
    Yeah- that interview was like something from The Onion. YCMTSU. With a large dose of smarm.
    watto_cobra
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