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The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce this week sent a letter to Apple [PDF] inquiring about the accuracy of the App Privacy labels that Apple asked developers to start adding to apps back in December.

app-store-privacy-labels-iphone-12.jpg

In the letter, the committee asks Apple about reports suggesting that some App Privacy labels are offering "misleading and false information." The query was prompted by a January story from The Washington Post that found over a dozen apps with inaccurate privacy labels.

Apple requires developers to provide information on all of the data that an app collects, but developers are self-submitting the privacy label details on an honor system, without verification from Apple itself. Apple has said that it routinely audits the information that's provided and works with developers to correct inaccuracies, but it's impossible for the company to verify every app's privacy listing.

App developers that do get audited and are found to have failed to disclose accurate privacy information can have future app updates rejected or in some situations, the apps can be removed from the App Store entirely if not brought into compliance.

Committee members Frank Pallone and Jan Schakowsky told Apple that a privacy label is "no protection if it is false," in the letter that urges Apple to improve App Privacy labels.
"According to recent reports, App Privacy labels can be highly misleading or blatantly false. Using software that logs data transmitted to trackers, a reporter discovered that approximately one third of evaluated apps that said they did not collect data had inaccurate labels. A privacy label is no protection if it is false. 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."
Apple has been asked to provide the following details on its App Privacy system:
  • Details on the process by which Apple audits the privacy information provided by app developers and how frequently audits are conducted;
  • How many of the apps audited since the implementation of the App Privacy label were found to have provided inaccurate or misleading information;
  • Whether Apple ensures that App Privacy labels are corrected upon the discovery of inaccuracies or misleading information; and
  • Details regarding Apple's enforcement policies when an app fails to provide accurate privacy information for the App Privacy label.
The committee asks that Apple send the requested information by February 23, so Apple has two weeks to craft a response.

Article Link: U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Questions Apple on Accuracy of App Store Privacy Labels
 

MauiPa

macrumors 68030
Apr 18, 2018
2,997
4,391
It seems the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce must back the idea of Privacy labeling if they want to know why developer submitted data is not accurate. Facebook is whining that they have to disclose data, and now the committee seems to be saying Apple should have more enforcement teeth. will the committee come out in favor of proper disclosures, and what about penalties to bad actors?
 

nexesnex

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2014
188
261
Am I alone in asking "why?". App Privacy Labels are ground breaking stuff and it's only weeks old.
Would it be too cynical to assume that those not happy with being forced to 'fess up about what their apps are doing are behind this through some form of lobbying?
Totally agree. Seems a little opportunistic of these politicians to subject Apple to such scrutiny so early.... It's like "Dear Apple, we never really cared when you didn't offer privacy info, but now that you do, you need to do everything right in week one."
 

McKodiak

macrumors regular
Oct 20, 2014
247
775
Everything apple is doing is probably the regulation big tech needs. The government should adopt, enforce and verify everything Apple is doing to everyone including Apple.
 
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icanhazmac

Contributor
Apr 11, 2018
1,480
4,912
Oddly enough I'm ok with this, the App Privacy labels are really useless unless Apple is auditing a large number of apps and bad actors are actually punished when caught, I'd like to see them publicly called out. A little transparency on this process would be welcome.

Overall very happy with Apple's efforts to push privacy along but the more I know about the process the more I can believe in it!
 
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PsykX

macrumors 68000
Sep 16, 2006
1,755
1,834
Am I alone in asking "why?". App Privacy Labels are ground breaking stuff and it's only weeks old.
Would it be too cynical to assume that those not happy with being forced to 'fess up about what their apps are doing are behind this through some form of lobbying?
Couldn't agree more... At this point, do they want more privacy initiatives to be done? If it's going to bring more problems, companies will just continue the trend.

Apple's just trying their best, doing what nobody did before. And it's a very welcome feature. Of course there's room for improvement - it shouldn't depend solely on the developer's honor - but it's a start.
 

entropys

macrumors 65816
Jan 5, 2007
1,002
1,850
Brisbane, Australia
I would have a close look at these parasites‘ PACs and who they have been meeting with lately. And it better not be people associated with data harvesting businesses.
A politician is as trustworthy as a scorpion, and we, my friends are the hapless fox.
 

grjj

macrumors regular
Apr 5, 2014
219
427
where's the letter to Amazon:

Dear Human simulant,

We are curious about reports that many of the products on your site are labelled as authentic but customers receive counterfeit product when paying the full brand name price. We would like answers to the following questions:

  • Details on the process by which Amazon audits the description provided by product sellers and how frequently audits are conducted;
  • How many of the products audited since were found to have provided inaccurate or misleading information;
  • Whether Amazon ensures that descriptions of products are corrected upon the discovery of inaccuracies or misleading information; and
  • Details regarding Amazon's enforcement policies when an product description fails to provide accurate information for the actual product
 

McKodiak

macrumors regular
Oct 20, 2014
247
775
So Apple implements a privacy practice that no one asked for or required, and now our governments wants to know why it's not better? Sounds like our government.
Yup. I wonder why our food nutritional labels aren't better.
 

ian87w

macrumors 604
Feb 22, 2020
6,868
9,645
Indonesia
Wait, shouldn’t they question the developers?
I mean if a nutrition label is misleading, does congress question the FDA instead of the food manufacturer? Why question Apple? They’re not the one providing the info. It’s the developers.
 

swm

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2013
461
781
funny. we use HTTPS everywhere, and it is essentially the perfect tool to exfil collected data without being noticed, as it would simply blend into the regular traffic. it is pretty challenging if not impossible to double down only the listed features are present in the code.

in other news: so if you're truly omnipotent, create a rock, so heavy, no one can lift it. done? now please lift it.
 

randyhudson

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2007
570
819
East Coast
Like if you've ever opened a link to a webpage in the YouTube app (e.g. in the video description or some comment), and chosen to open the link In Safari.

Did you know that Google tracks not only that link you opened, but everywhere you browse after that? They falsely claim to open Safari, but they just show a WebView widget in their App, allowing them to monitor everywhere you go from there.

I think Users understand Google is tracking their youtube browsing, but the privacy policy says nothing about tracking their "Safari" browsing.
IMG_0303.jpg
 
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LeadingHeat

macrumors 6502a
Oct 3, 2015
926
2,312
If this isn’t the government looking a gift horse in the mouth I don’t know what is. Nobody required Apple to come out with these privacy labels, and now they’re condemning Apple for them having some discrepancies?

That being said, I do think there should be efforts made to be sure that they are accurate, but the way they came out and said it sounds mighty entitled.
 

now i see it

macrumors G3
Jan 2, 2002
9,519
19,011
A false privacy label is a lot worse than no label at all. That's why  is getting audited.
Bottom line: The privacy labels can't be trusted for ANY app if 30% of them are lies.
The labels won't accomplish anything when everyone knows they're BS.
 
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