Apple gives ultimatum to developers: Either remove screen recording code or face ‘immediate action’

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February 9, 2019
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Recent attacks on user privacy have prompted Apple to crack down on apps that records iPhone’s screen, the Cupertino giant has given a strict warning to developers to remove the controversial screen recording code from their apps or face ‘immediate’ action.

The company has given the option to either properly disclose analytics code the app uses to record user’s interaction on the iPhone screen or face removal from the “App store”. The Apple spokesperson in an email said:

Protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.

The email further said that Apple has notified all of the developers about their new policy regarding the privacy terms.

We have notified the developers that are in violation of these strict privacy terms and guidelines, and will take immediate action if necessary.” the spokesperson added.

As per the report by Verge major companies such as ‘Expedia’, ‘Hollister’ and ‘Hotels.com’ are using a third-party analytics tool to record every tap and swipe of the user (when using their app). Surprisingly, neither did these apps include this information (recording the user’s activity) in their privacy statement nor did they ask for user’s permission before recording.

The third-party app used by these companies was ‘Glassbox’, a cross-platform analytics tool that specializes in ‘session replay’ technology. The tool basically allows companies to integrate its screen recording technology into their apps to replay how a user interacts with the apps.

According to Glassbox, their technology allows companies to reduce ‘app error rates’, however the company doesn’t enforce its customers to mention that they use Glassbox’s technology to record user’s screen time routine which is contrary to Apple’s app policy which strictly forbids apps to collect user data without their consent or permission.

Glassbox is also available on the Android platform and would probably be used for the same screen-time recording purpose. Google hasn’t released any statement on this but considering the unethical nature of the incident, it will release some sort of ultimatum for the app developers in a short while.

 
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