Apple's New App Store Guidelines Restrict Apps From Harvesting Data From iPhone Users' Friends

appstorelogocleanApple last week updated its App Store Review Guidelines for developers after unveiling iOS 12, introducing rules for remote mirroring apps, banning cryptocurrency mining, and introducing clear rules to allow developers to provide free trials for paid apps.

At the same time, Apple also quietly expanded its data sharing rules, as Bloomberg points out, introducing strict new guidelines that prevent app developers from collecting user data to build advertising profiles or contact databases. The rules also prohibit apps from harvesting data from an iPhone user's contacts. From Apple's updated 5.1.2 data sharing guidelines:

(iii) Apps should not attempt to surreptitiously build a user profile based on collected data and may not attempt, facilitate, or encourage others to identify anonymous users or reconstruct user profiles based on data collected from Apple-provided APIs or any data that you say has been collected in an "anonymized," "aggregated," or otherwise non-identifiable way.

(iv) Do not use information from Contacts, Photos, or other APIs that access user data to build a contact database for your own use or for sale/distribution to third parties, and don't collect information about which other apps are installed on a user's device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing.

(v) Do not contact people using information collected via a user's Contacts or Photos, except at the explicit initiative of that user on an individualized basis; do not include a Select All option or default the selection of all contacts. You must provide the user with a clear description of how the message will appear to the recipient before sending it (e.g. What will the message say? Who will appear to be the sender?).

The wording of the updated 5.1.2 guideline puts an end to secretive data collection techniques, where developers collect data from an iPhone user's contacts and then use it for marketing and advertising purposes. In the past, developers have used iPhone contact lists, which include phone numbers, email addresses, photos, and other information, for unsavory advertising and data collection purposes.

One developer explained to Bloomberg just how much data was accessible and how easily it could be obtained and abused without Apple's knowledge:

"The address book is the Wild West of data,'' the iOS developer said. "I am able to instantly transfer all the contacts info into some random server or upload it to Dropbox if I wanted to, the very moment a user says okay to giving contacts permission. Apple doesn't track it, nor do they know where it went.''

Developers are now expressly forbidden from using apps to build user profiles and contact databases and from misusing contact information and other sensitive user data. Apple has also prohibited apps from sending out mass texts to a user's contact list without explicit user permission. Developers who are caught breaking Apple's new data sharing rules may be banned from the App Store.

The full App Store Guidelines for developers can be viewed on Apple's website.

Top Rated Comments

H3LL5P4WN Avatar
36 months ago
So this means Facebook is banned, yeah? lol
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
36 months ago
This is why I almost always say "no" when apps ask for access to my contacts. It feels like selling out my friends.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alphaod Avatar
36 months ago
This is excellent. I usually forbid apps from accessing my contacts unless I really know the app.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jyby Avatar
36 months ago
Science Rules!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WannaGoMac Avatar
36 months ago
Unfortunately the cat is out of the bag on this one...but better late than never. All our contact info has been shared by our friends to every big and medium sized company on the planet by now.

As others ask, guess Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will be banned now?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
36 months ago
Great deal. Far too many apps allowed your friends to determine if they shared YOUR details. Nothing like someone you haven't seen since high school giving your contact information and all kinds of other stuff to some random advertiser.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple transfer google photos 1

Apple Launches Service for Transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos

Wednesday March 3, 2021 12:04 pm PST by
Apple this week introduced a new service that's designed to make it quick and easy for iCloud users to transfer their stored photos and videos to Google Photos. As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple's privacy website and sign in to see the "Transfer a copy of your data" option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your iCloud photos and ...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
rosetta 2

Rosetta May Be Removed From M1 Macs in Some Regions on macOS 11.3

Tuesday March 2, 2021 5:20 pm PST by
Installing the upcoming macOS 11.3 software update on an M1 Mac may result in Rosetta 2 being removed in one or more regions around the world. In the third beta of macOS 11.3 seeded to developers for testing today, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser uncovered new strings in the beta's code indicating that "Rosetta will be removed upon installing this update." Another new string reads "Rosetta ...
iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
Screen Shot 2021 03 03 at 11

MagSafe Charging Port for iPhone Appears in Apple Patent

Wednesday March 3, 2021 1:30 am PST by
In a newly granted patent, Apple envisions a type of connectivity port using an iteration of its magnetic MagSafe charger to charge an iPhone, potentially paving the way for a future without Lightning. Submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday (via Patently Apple), the patent outlines a three-pinned MagSafe charger, similar to the ones found in older MacBook...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
iPad mini pro feature

Sketchy Rumor Claims 'iPad Mini Pro' Launching in Second Half of 2021

Wednesday March 3, 2021 3:04 am PST by
Apple is expected to launch a sixth-generation iPad mini in the first half of 2021, possibly as soon as this March, based on long-standing rumors. However, a new rumor out of Asia that has gained traction in the last 24 hours suggests an "iPad mini Pro" will arrive in the second half of this year. According to a post on Korean blog Naver, whose rumor track record is unknown, the device...
apple pencil 3 leak

New Apple Pencil Allegedly Leaks With Glossy Finish and Redesigned Tip

Wednesday March 3, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Images supposedly depicting a third-generation Apple Pencil have been shared on Twitter by the leaker known as "Mr. White." The purported new Apple Pencil appears to share a very similar design to the current, second-generation Apple Pencil, which is shorter than the previous version and charges inductively on the side of an iPad. The updated Apple Pencil appears to have a glossy...
apple watch ecg wrist

Apple Watch ECG Feature Gets Approved in Australia

Wednesday March 3, 2021 2:07 am PST by
The Australian government has approved ECG functionality on the Apple Watch, giving Apple the all-clear to launch the feature for Apple Watch users in the country, according to a regulatory document first spotted by The 8-Bit. Earlier last month, the Apple Watch's irregular heart rhythm notification received approval in Australia, although ECG did not. Irregular heart rhythm is a feature...