Apple Asked to Fact-Check Apps' Privacy Labels

Apple doesn’t manually verify the validity of the privacy label information provided by the app’s developers which has now resulted in the Washington politicians to pen an open letter to its CEO Tim Cook.

In this open letter, they asked the Apple’s CEO to adopt a different method so that the editors fact-check all the app’s submitted privacy label information. According to MacRumors notes, politicians are worried about the fact that the information provided in these privacy labels might be false and can mislead the customers about how their data is collected and used by the app. The committee has also asked the Apple team to offer more details on these privacy labels.

What the Government Wants?

According to the committee, Apple needs to provide the following information to the government:

  • The detailed process used by Apple to audit the private information provided by the app and how often these audits are conducted.
  • The number of apps since the App Privacy Label implementation that were found to have provided false or inaccurate information.
  • Does Apple ensure that the inaccurate information provided by an app in the privacy labels is corrected upon the discovery?
  • Details on how Apple deals with the apps that are unable to provide accurate information for the privacy label.

Apple has been asked to send all these details by February 23.

How Apple Screens the Privacy Labels?

Apple easily has more than 2.5 million apps in its App Store and receives thousands of submissions every week. As a result, they would need a huge bolstering of the Apple’s App Store’s review team to ensure that all the apps are properly verified before being made available to the customers. Also, while Apple does audit the app’s privacy labels and tries to ensure that all the inaccuracies are corrected, it is very difficult for the company to verify each app’s privacy listing.

Generally, they use a combination of machine learning to identify potentially problematic privacy labels and responds promptly upon identifying false information. In December 2020, Apple made it mandatory for all the new app submissions to the App Store to have privacy labels. In the App Privacy section, the customer can see what the app is asking from them before they download the app.

But a recent report from Washington found that a few of these apps are showing completely false information to the customers. Although it is not clear right now how big this problem is as the research was done on a small database. However, the apps that were tested as a part of this research showed that more than half of them had false or inaccurate information listed in the App Privacy section on the App Store.