Apple Keeps A Closer Eye On Location-Sharing Apps

Apple has reportedly started to more carefully monitor App Store apps that share location data with third parties. The company has always prohibited developers from sharing location information without explicit user permission, but according to 9To5Mac, Apple has started to enforce that rule more than it did before as a result of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that's set to go into effect on May 25.

In response to GDPR, many tech companies have modified their services, privacy policies, or both. Facebook has started to offer more privacy tools--even as it fights to prevent GDPR protections from covering many of its users--and the likes of GOG and Twitter have clarified how user data is used in their privacy policies. Now it seems that GDPR has prompted Apple to make sure iOS app developers are following the rules for its App Store.

In a message to one dev, a screenshot of which was shared on Twitter, Apple said an unidentified app violated this App Store Review Guideline:

Legal – 5.1.1 and Legal 5.1.2

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

9To5Mac said that several other developers have privately said they received similar messages. That means Apple has removed at least a few apps from the App Store for sharing location data with third parties in a way that violates the rule cited above. Getting the app back in the App Store requires devs to "remove any code, frameworks, or SDKs that fall in line with the functionality described above" and resubmit the app for approval.

Although the sudden enforcement of App Store guidelines is sure to make things difficult for developers, consumers should probably welcome this change. Part of the App Store's appeal is the assurance that Apple has vetted every app sold through it. If some apps share location data or other personal information in a way that violates Apple's rules, well, those guarantees will probably start to ring hollow for many iPhone and iPad owners.

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