As part of Apple’s new App Store guidelines, all developers must submit details about the kind of data they collect on users.
WhatsApp has claimed that Apple’s “mandatory” App Store privacy nutrition labels may scare away people from using its app while giving its own first-party apps like iMessage that come pre-installed on all iPhones, an unfair advantage. In statements given out to Axios, a WhatsApp spokesperson said “while providing people with easy to read information is a good start,” Apple’s approach did not “reflect the strong measures apps may take to protect people’s private information.”
As part of Apple’s new App Store guidelines—first announced during WWDC 2020 in June—all developers must submit details about the kind of data they collect on users. Since there is no one common standard here, Apple has come out with broad-based terms such as “user data” and “identifiers” for developers. In line with this requirement, WhatsApp has submitted its “WhatsApp label” (to be) displayed in Apple’s App Store providing “additional information about data use that is not protected by end-to-end encryption.”
“Our teams have submitted our privacy labels to Apple but Apple’s template does not shed light on the lengths apps may go to protect sensitive information. While WhatsApp cannot see people’s messages or precise location, we’re stuck using the same broad labels with apps that do,” the WhatsApp spokesperson was quoted as saying.
WhatsApp’s blogpost detailing its privacy label seems to suggest that this is valid for apps distributed through the App Store only meaning Apple’s own apps that come pre-installed on iPhones may or may not be governed by the same rules. Apple has however come out and said the new rules applied to all iOS apps “equally” including pre-installed ones like iMessage that weren’t featured on the App Store. For all such apps, the privacy information would be made available on Apple’s website.
Apple required all app developers to submit their privacy labels by December 8. An exact date for when these will start showing up on the App Store is not known at this point of time.