Yesterday, TechCrunch discovered that multiple popular iPhone apps from major companies are using intrusive analytics services that capture data ranging from taps and swipes to full screen recordings, all without customers knowing about it.
Today, Apple has informed app developers that this kind of screen recording analytics code needs to be clearly disclosed to customers or removed from iOS apps. From an Apple spokesperson’s email to TechCrunch:
"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."
"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.
At least one developer has already been told to remove the code that recorded app activities. From an email to the developer:
"Your app uses analytics software to collect and send user or device data to a third party without the user’s consent. Apps must request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity."
Apple is serious about getting rid of this code and gave the developer in question less than a day to remove it and resubmit the app before it would be pulled from the App Store.
High-profile apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines are using Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm with a "session replay" screen recording feature.
Session replays are designed to let developers screenshot or record or a user’s screen and then play back those recordings to see how users interact with their apps. Taps, button pushes, and keyboard entries are all captured and provided to app developers.
None of the apps above disclosed that they were recording a user’s screen in their privacy policies, which is apparently in violation of Apple’s App Store rules.
Apple also requires apps that record the screen to have a little red icon on the top left corner of the phone to make it clear that the screen is being recorded, and it sounds like Apple is going to enforce this rule for this kind of analytics tracking.
Most likely, apps will need to remove this feature because customers are not going to willingly use an app that’s recording everything that they’re doing.
There are many other analytics companies that have similar practices like Appsee and UXCam, so there are undoubtedly many more apps that are using these secret screen recording features without customer knowledge.
This article, "Apple Forces Developers to Remove Screen Recording Code From iOS Apps" first appeared on MacRumors.com
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