Apple Cleaning Up Its 3rd Party Apps
Over the last few days Apple has started removing 3rd party apps from its App Store which collect and share users’ location information. These apps typically use free games, coupons or some other seemingly innocent content to lure users into downloading them. Then buried deep in the Terms and Conditions (which users must agree to), there’s a disclosure that the app contains an SDK which can track and collect data on the phone’s physical location. The 3rd party collecting this data can sell this info to brands and other fourth party attribution companies. All of this typically occurs without the user even being aware of what’s going on in their phones.
Apple’s removal of these apps is probably happening because of a combination of two factors. One is the Facebook data breach – since Cambridge Analytica used a gamification app as the back door to steal Facebook users’ data Apple probably wants to stay as far away from that model as possible. The other issue is the EU’s GDPR regulation which goes into effect in two weeks – since users aren’t explicitly consenting to having their location tracked these apps would probably be a violation of that law too.
It’s a smart proactive move by Apple. Don’t be surprised if Google pulls the plug on these kind of apps in their Android app store too.