Apple questioned over accuracy of new privacy labels in iOS 14

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What you need to know

  • A House committee in the US wants Apple to review and improve its new iOS 14 privacy labels.
  • It follows reports that they are "often misleading and inaccurate".

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has written to Apple "urging" the company to review its iOS 14 privacy labels, following reports that they are misleading.

In a press release the committee stated:

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook today urging review and improvement of Apple's new App Privacy labels in light of recent reports suggesting they are often misleading or inaccurate.

The committee refers to recent reports which "found that approximately one-third of evaluated apps with "Data Not Collected" labels were found to in fact collect data," as reported by The Washington Post. From the letter:

Simplifying and enhancing privacy disclosures is a laudable goal, but consumer trust in privacy labeling approaches may be undermined if Apple's App Privacy labels disseminate false and misleading information. Without meaningful, accurate information, Apple's tool of illumination and transparency may become a source of consumer confusion and harm. False and misleading privacy labels can dupe privacy-conscious consumers into downloading data intensive apps, ultimately eroding the credibility and integrity of the labels. A privacy label without credibility and integrity also may dull the competitive forces encouraging app developers to improve their data practices.

The letter, addressed directly to Tim Cook, seeks clarification in a number of areas including details about the process Apple uses to audit the privacy information provided by developers, how frequent this is, the criteria, and more. It also asks how many apps have been audited, and how many of those were found to be misleading.

It further asks if App Privacy labels are corrected following the discovery of inaccuracies, what Apple's enforcement policies are, whether there are more stringent rules for apps targeted toward young children, and if Apple notifies users when a material change is made to an app's label.

Apple has until February 23 to respond.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9