GDPR is coming soon so Apple starts clamping down on apps that sell your location data

Stepping up its policy of removing iPhone and iPad software from App Store that violates its strict guidelines, Apple is now cracking down on apps that collect and share your location data with third-parties without explicit consent.

As a company that puts great emphasis of preserving user privacy, Apple couldn’t let it slide so they took swift action. The Cupertino tech giant has informed affected developers via email that their app is in violation of sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines.

The app transmits user location data to third parties without explicit consent from the user and for unapproved purposes.

Some apps fail to provide unambiguous information as to what location data is used for. Others don’t disclose how location data is shared once it’s collected. There are clearly apps out there that collect location data for purposes unrelated to improving the user experience.

Apps that sell location data to third parties are being temporarily removed from sale on App Store until their developers make necessary changes to comply with the App Store guidelines.

“We are writing to let you know about new information regarding your app,” says the email. “Upon re-evaluation, we found that your app is not in compliance with the Review Guidelines.”

“For this reason, your app will be removed from sale on App Store at this app,” it reads.

To have their app returned for sale on App Store, the affected developer is required to remove any code, frameworks or SDKs that Apple says “fall in one with the functionality describe above.“ After a compliant version has been resubmitted for review and subsequently approved, Apple will put the offending app back for sale on App Store.

Section 5.1.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines states:

You may not use or transmit someone’s personal data without first obtaining their permission and providing access to information about how and where the data will be used.

Data collected from apps may not be used or shared with third parties for purposes unrelated to improving the user experience or software/hardware performance connected to the app’s functionality.

Apple is most likely enforcing this particular rule ahead of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which harmonizes data privacy laws across Europe.

Are you glad that Apple is removing apps that sell your location data?

Let us know in the comments!

Screenshot courtesy of Twitter user @Thomasbcn