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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple last week updated its App Store Review Guidelines for developers after unveiling iOS 12, introducing rules for remote mirroring apps, banning cryptocurrency mining, and introducing clear rules to allow developers to provide free trials for paid apps.

At the same time, Apple also quietly expanded its data sharing rules, as Bloomberg points out, introducing strict new guidelines that prevent app developers from collecting user data to build advertising profiles or contact databases. The rules also prohibit apps from harvesting data from an iPhone user's contacts. From Apple's updated 5.1.2 data sharing guidelines:
(iii) Apps should not attempt to surreptitiously build a user profile based on collected data and may not attempt, facilitate, or encourage others to identify anonymous users or reconstruct user profiles based on data collected from Apple-provided APIs or any data that you say has been collected in an "anonymized," "aggregated," or otherwise non-identifiable way.

(iv) Do not use information from Contacts, Photos, or other APIs that access user data to build a contact database for your own use or for sale/distribution to third parties, and don't collect information about which other apps are installed on a user's device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing.

(v) Do not contact people using information collected via a user's Contacts or Photos, except at the explicit initiative of that user on an individualized basis; do not include a Select All option or default the selection of all contacts. You must provide the user with a clear description of how the message will appear to the recipient before sending it (e.g. What will the message say? Who will appear to be the sender?).
The wording of the updated 5.1.2 guideline puts an end to secretive data collection techniques, where developers collect data from an iPhone user's contacts and then use it for marketing and advertising purposes. In the past, developers have used iPhone contact lists, which include phone numbers, email addresses, photos, and other information, for unsavory advertising and data collection purposes.

One developer explained to Bloomberg just how much data was accessible and how easily it could be obtained and abused without Apple's knowledge:
"The address book is the Wild West of data,'' the iOS developer said. "I am able to instantly transfer all the contacts info into some random server or upload it to Dropbox if I wanted to, the very moment a user says okay to giving contacts permission. Apple doesn't track it, nor do they know where it went.''
Developers are now expressly forbidden from using apps to build user profiles and contact databases and from misusing contact information and other sensitive user data. Apple has also prohibited apps from sending out mass texts to a user's contact list without explicit user permission. Developers who are caught breaking Apple's new data sharing rules may be banned from the App Store.

The full App Store Guidelines for developers can be viewed on Apple's website.

Article Link: Apple's New App Store Guidelines Restrict Apps From Harvesting Data From iPhone Users' Friends
 

Herb128K

macrumors newbie
Oct 23, 2014
2
0
Perhaps I didn't read the above "Apple guidelines" carefully enough but the words "should not," and "do not," don't actually restrict apps from harvesting the data or building the profiles that they're not supposed to do anymore! Am I missing something?
 

DataChris

macrumors member
Nov 5, 2007
52
161
Yeah, I think Apple should list out what fields are shared when you agree to those requests for data. Like when you use an App what data about your device do developers get to know about?

Absolutely! In fact, Apple, iOS should enable a way for users to select/prevent specific contacts and/or groups of contacts from being shared at all (family, kids, etc) as well as options to prevent specific contact data/fields from being shared at all (like Notes, Address, Photos, Secondary numbers/emails, etc)!
 

WannaGoMac

macrumors 68030
Feb 11, 2007
2,569
3,828
Unfortunately the cat is out of the bag on this one...but better late than never. All our contact info has been shared by our friends to every big and medium sized company on the planet by now.

As others ask, guess Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will be banned now?
 

manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
7,170
2,993
Absolutely! In fact, Apple, iOS should enable a way for users to select/prevent specific contacts and/or groups of contacts from being shared at all (family, kids, etc).
And the reverse of sharing only a specific group.
 
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bluecoast

macrumors 68000
Nov 7, 2017
1,547
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I feel really naive that I allowed (some) if the apps that I used to access things like this.

And whilst I’m not exactly blaming Apple, because the App Store was always curated, I generally trusted any apps there to not use my info for anything other than providing the functionality that the apps claimed to.

I really had no idea that so much data harvesting was going on. Even though it seems obvious now, in retrospect.

I guess we have the European GDPR rules and the bigger focus on privacy in the USA to thank for this.

Oh well. ‘Won’t get fooled again’ as the Who once sang.

P.S. the upshot of all of this is that I don’t trust any third party email apps now, or contact apps or even photo editors.

Maybe I’m being paranoid but I just feel that I’ve no control over what happens to my data once I open that door, no way of knowing what’s really going on and if my data or metadata isn’t being silently uploaded somewhere.
 

manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
7,170
2,993
This is why I almost always say "no" when apps ask for access to my contacts. It feels like selling out my friends.
Agreed, I just checked and I have only given six apps this permission:
  • One of them being Apple's own Airport Utility
  • Two being calendar apps (I guess one usage is when auto-completeing an entry based on names in ones address book)
  • Two of them being 'social media', Skype & Signal, for both of which having access to the contacts list is essential when you want to contact somebody else by starting with their name only
  • An app to create a map where the locations of a group people are marked.
None of them would need to upload any data from my address book to function but Skype probably does so.
 
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1252

macrumors member
May 14, 2018
50
7
"....and the bigger focus on privacy in the USA...."

This is really a good joke.
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
7,170
2,993
P.S. the upshot of all of this is that I don’t trust any third party email apps now, or contact apps or even photo editors.
On the Mac (or PC) most apps could always access most files on the computer (unless encrypted like the keychain). But most application types were created before the widespread connectivity of todays computing devices (or any connectivity at all). Nobody ever thought, eg, a drawing application would upload your contacts. This was largely because the business case to so for the app developer didn't really exist (though malware used your list of contacts to spread itself almost right from the start of connected computing). Part of it is that the value of personal data (including your list of contacts, alternative email addresses) has increased for advertisers and social media companies. Part of it is that if Photoshop uploaded your photos (or address book), it would damage the product and company quickly (though companies producing essentials would get a free pass for quite a lot).
 

gwaizai

macrumors regular
Aug 8, 2016
178
179
I'm happy to offer myself up in The Reaping to protect my friends...not!
 

bluecoast

macrumors 68000
Nov 7, 2017
1,547
1,436
On the Mac (or PC) most apps could always access most files on the computer (unless encrypted like the keychain). But most application types were created before the widespread connectivity of todays computing devices (or any connectivity at all). Nobody ever thought, eg, a drawing application would upload your contacts. This was largely because the business case to so for the app developer didn't really exist (though malware used your list of contacts to spread itself almost right from the start of connected computing). Part of it is that the value of personal data (including your list of contacts, alternative email addresses) has increased for advertisers and social media companies. Part of it is that if Photoshop uploaded your photos (or address book), it would damage the product and company quickly (though companies producing essentials would get a free pass for quite a lot).

Yes indeed, totally. I never thought anything of allowing apps like NS communicator to store my contacts.

I mean why not? They didn’t have any use for them (and indeed they didn’t in those halcyon days that you describe).

I now feel so stupid for getting sucked into the hype of first trying out free Web 2.0 Ajax apps around 2004-2007.

Hey it was all hip, cool and fun - and it was all FREE!

And so what if I needed to connect my google account to these sites for them to work & give them full access?

Ditto the wave of apps up till about a few years ago when I started to get a little suspicious.

They all had cool names, awesome designs, were kinda cool & were probably just trying to get bought up like Instagram.

They wouldn’t be harvesting my data on the side, would they?

I mean that would be so square and uncool and these apps were cool - and I was so stupid. I guess most of us were.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
51,388
19,448
They should also narrow down the permissions to specifics.
E.g. when you want to share an image from an app, that app shouldn't have to have read/write/delete permissions to all your storage. Just get permission to upload that one image, that one time.
So you'd basically need to grant permissions each time you want to do something like that? Pretty sure quite a few people would be complaining about that.
 
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