Apple has given an ultimatum to developers of apps that secretly record your screen activity: Remove or fix this capability, or we'll take action.
A recent investigation conducted by TechCrunch found several iOS apps capable of collecting data on you by monitoring and recording what you do on the screen. Apps from Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Expedia, Hotels.com, Singapore Airlines and Air Canada were discovered using technology from customer experience analytics firm Glassbox that could record, replay and view all the taps, swipes and keystrokes you make on the screen. The recordings were conducted without the permission or knowledge of users.
In response, Apple sent the following statement 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."
One developer cited by TechCrunch received an email from Apple with instructions to remove code that recorded activity on the phone. The developer was given less than a day to get rid of the code in question; otherwise, Apple would remove the app from the App Store.
User privacy continues to be a growing concern, especially on the mobile front. Developers and advertisers are so eager to monetize user data that they'll go to great lengths to collect such data. The promo for Glassbox's website even states: "Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it? This is no longer a hypothetical question, but a real possibility."
Apps that scoop up data can also fail to gain consent from or inform users of such activity. And when the apps circumvent App Store guidelines designed to protect people, Apple is forced to intervene.
Apple's Guidelines specifically state: "Apps must request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity. This includes any use of the device camera, microphone, or other user inputs."
Download.com contacted Apple to find out if any screen recording apps have recently been removed for violating the guidelines.
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- Apple has promised to take action against any apps that record your screen activity without your knowledge or permission.
- A TechCrunch investigation discovered several apps using the Glassbox analytics tool to record and replay the screen activity of users.
- Some bank, travel and cell phone carrier iOS apps are secretly recording your screen
- Dozens of iOS apps caught secretly sharing your data for profit
- Microsoft Authenticator app now warns you of suspicious activity on your accountUber's iOS app could have recorded your screen (CNET)
- 7 security tips to stop apps from stealing your data (CNET)
- iPhone snooping: Apple cracks down on apps that secretly record taps, keystrokes (ZDNet)
- Here's how to stop Android apps from stealing and sharing your phone data (TechRepublic)