The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to Apple this week [PDF] Ask about the accuracy of App Privacy Labels as Apple asked developers to start adding apps in December.
In the letter, the committee asks Apple for reports suggesting that some App Privacy labels offer “misleading and false information.” The question was asked by a January story from The Washington Post who found over a dozen apps with inaccurate privacy labels.
Apple requires developers to provide information about all the data that an app collects, but developers themselves provide the privacy label information on an honor system without confirmation from Apple itself. Apple has said that it routinely checks the information provided and works with developers to correct inaccuracies, but it is impossible for the company to verify the privacy list of each app.
App developers who are being revised and found not to disclose accurate privacy information may have future app updates rejected, or in some situations, the apps may be removed from the App Store altogether if they are not complied with.
Committee members Frank Pallone and Jan Schakowsky told Apple that a privacy label is “no protection if it is false”, in the letter urging Apple to improve its privacy labels.
“According to recent reports, App Privacy labels can be very misleading or blatantly fake. Using software that logs data transferred to trackers, a reporter discovered that about one-third of the evaluated apps that said they did not collect data were inaccurate. “is no protection if it is fake. We encourage Apple to improve the validity of its App Privacy Labels to ensure that consumers receive meaningful information about the app’s data practices and that consumers are not harmed by this potentially misleading practice.”
Apple has been asked to provide the following details in the App Privacy system:
- Details about the process by which Apple revises the privacy information of app developers and how often revisions are made;
- How many of the apps that were revised since the implementation of App Privacy Privacy were found to have provided inaccurate or misleading information;
- Whether Apple ensures that App Privacy Labels are corrected by discovering inaccuracies or misleading information; and
- Details of Apple’s enforcement policies when an app does not provide accurate privacy information for the App Privacy Label.
The committee asks Apple to send the requested information by February 23, so Apple has two weeks to make a response.
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