Apple is taking a page from the nutrition labels on packaged foods, and applying the same concept to data privacy on third-party apps.
At WWDC, Apple revealed it’s going to require all developers to self-report their data collection practices in an easy-to-understand bar for consumers to read.
“So we thought it would be great to have something similar for apps,” said Erik Neuenschwander, director of user privacy at Apple, during the WWDC keynote.
The privacy labels will indicate the kind of data an iOS app needs to collect, whether it be financial data, your location, browsing history, and more. “You can see if a developer is collecting a little bit of data on you or a lot of data. Or if they are sharing data with other companies to track you,” said Katie Skinner, manager of user privacy software at Apple.
The labels will appear on product pages for apps across all the company’s app stores.
Apple is also bringing the concept to the company’s browser, Safari. The software will soon include an icon, which will offer you a “privacy report” on the website you’re visiting and the tracking that occurs. The same icon will also indicate that Safari is blocking the trackers from pulling your data. (Mozilla’s Firefox has a similar feature.)
Another upcoming change is the capability to control when a third-party Safari extension can collect your data over the browser. Options include permitting the access for one day, for a specific website, or for all websites.
Similar safeguards are arriving to iOS to prevent intrusive monitoring. One upcoming change includes allowing apps to only access your approximate data location as opposed to the precise GPS coordinates. Apple is also going to force apps to ask permission before tracking your data footprint across other apps and websites.
Finally, the company is adding an orange light icon to the iPhone’s status bar, which will let you know when a third-party app is using your camera or microphone to record. The features are set to arrive some time this year.