Apple Privacy Labels Draw Hill Flak

Capitol Building

Top House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats are labeling Apple's new privacy notices potentially "misleading" and "inaccurate."

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In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), cited a tech review in The Washington Post under the headline: "I checked Apple’s new privacy ‘nutrition labels.’ Many were false."

The legislators said that while Apple's summary of an apps data collection practices, which appear in boxes on each apps product page, about a third of those that said "data not collected" were collecting data.

In one case, they said, "a 'slime simulator' app was found to have shared identifying information with major tech companies and data about the phone’s battery level, storage, general location, and volume level with a video game software development company, even though its label suggested that the app collected no data at all."

While they praised Apple for simplifying and enhancing disclosures, they also warned that false and misleading disclosures undermine that effort.

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They want written answers to the following:

1. "Details on the process by which Apple audits the privacy information provided by app developers and how frequently audits are conducted;

2. "How many of the apps audited since the implementation of the App Privacy label were found to have provided inaccurate or misleading information;

3. "Whether Apple ensures that App Privacy labels are corrected upon the discovery of inaccuracies or misleading information; and

4. "Details regarding Apple’s enforcement policies when an app fails to provide accurate privacy information for the App Privacy label."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.