As promised at WWDC 2020, Apple has quietly added an 'App Privacy' section to its App Store to keep users informed about the data that would be collected from them if they install and use a particular app. This promise by Apple is part of its App tracking transparency project, a solution designed to better inform and protect users of Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad.
From now on, all of the apps listed on the Apple App Stores (on iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, or macOS) will display comprehensive information – accompanied by clear graphics telling users what personal data will be accessed by the applications they are going to or have installed.
Since December 8, third-party developers have been required to self-declare this information. As they submit updates to their apps, all of the apps offered on Apple's App Store will provide information about the collection of your data in their description sheets. What is also interesting is the fact that this obligation also applies to native Apple apps.
Three categories of data collection
If you have checked out an App Page already, you might be aware that as of now these labels currently come in three categories. These make it easy to differentiate between “data used to track you,” “data linked to you,” and “data not linked to you.”
What 'tracking' refers to in the context of "data used to track you" is that the app developer is linking data (which may contain personal information) collected from your phone with other data from other companies’ apps or websites. This, as you might have already guessed is to help them with targeted advertising. Apple also makes it clear that it also uses the term 'tracking' to signify that user or device information with companies that sell it.
The “data linked to you” portion of the label is any data that can be used to identify you. As for “Data not linked to you”, this label is there to clarify that some of the collected data are not identifiable in nature and that they cannot be used to track you and your activities.
What do you think about the latest move from Apple in the direction of data transparency. Do you think this is a step in the right direction?