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Security & privacy

A quick, easy way to see exactly what info your iPhone apps are collecting

We all know the apps we’re using are gathering our data. It’s part of using technology in this day and age.

Knowing what data apps are collecting, however, is a different story. You can find clues by looking at listings in app stores, but making sense of that data-gathering information can be difficult. And some apps are more egregious with data collecting than others. Tap or click here to see the list of worst offenders.

Fortunately, it’s about to get much easier to find that information if you’re an iPhone user. Apple is making some big changes to third-party apps’ requirements, and they’re rolling out soon. Let’s check these changes out.

Apple is making changes to protect your data

Do you remember back in June when Apple said it would start requiring app developers to spell out what data they gather from users? Well, those changes finally rolled out this week with the release of iOS 14.3.

According to Apple, “The App Store now helps users better understand an app’s privacy practices before they download the app on any Apple platform. On each app’s product page, users can learn about some of the data types the app may collect, and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them.

‘You’ll need to provide information about your app’s privacy practices, including the practices of third-party partners whose code you integrate into your app, in App Store Connect. This information is required to submit new apps and app updates to the App Store.”

This means that developers who want their apps listed will have to tell Apple the types of data being collected by the app and whether that data will be used to link to you or track you. This information will be submitted to Apple by the developers before any updates or new apps will be added to the App Store.

This information will then be listed on “nutrition labels,” which are privacy labels in the App Store. The goal is to help you better understand why your data is being gathered and how an app will use it.

Developers will be required to receive your permission if they want to track you across apps or websites owned by other companies. They will also be required to ask permission to access your device’s advertising identifier.

Related: Tap or click here to se why Google is being hit with a massive privacy lawsuit

Apple take huge step to protect privacy

According to Apple, developers will have to hand over information on several types of tracking, including:

  • Displaying targeted advertisements in the app based on user data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies.
  • Sharing device location data or email lists with a data broker.
  • Sharing a list of emails, advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network that uses that information to retarget those users in other developers’ apps or to find similar users.
  • Placing a third-party Software Development Kit (SDK) in the app that combines user data from their app with user data from other developers’ apps to target advertising or measure advertising efficiency, even if the developer doesn’t use SDK for these purposes. For example, using an analytics SDK that repurposes data it collects from your app to enable targeted ads in other developers’ apps.

Any third-party developers who roll out new apps or updates will be required to submit the app’s privacy information to Apple before the apps can be approved. If developers don’t meet the new requirements, the apps and updates will not be added to the App Store.

To install iOS 14.3, open the Settings app on your device. Then, scroll down and tap General followed by Software Update. You can then tap Download and Install to install the update.

Our data and privacy seem to be under attack constantly. It’s good that Apple is making this change, and hopefully, more tech companies will actively pursue better privacy protection policies like this one. But don’t hold your breath.

Tap or click here to see six privacy and security mistakes you’re making on social media.

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