More Than a Dozen Apps With 'Misleading or Flat-Out Inaccurate' Privacy Labels Found on App Store

Last month, Apple introduced privacy labels on the App Store, providing users with a broad overview of the data types an app may collect, and whether the information is used to track them or is linked to their identity or device.

app store privacy labels iphone 12
Apple has required developers to provide this privacy information when submitting new apps and app updates to the App Store since early December, but the labels function on an honor system, with fine print indicating that "this information has not been verified by Apple." As such, there is always the potential that some apps will be dishonest.

On that note, The Washington Post's Geoffrey A. Fowler recently did a spot check and discovered "more than a dozen" apps with "either misleading or flat-out inaccurate" privacy labels. One of these apps was a game called "Satisfying Slime Simulator," which Fowler said was sending his iPhone's advertising identifier and other device information to companies like Facebook, Google, and Unity, despite its privacy label indicating "No Data Collected."

Fowler listed several other apps with "No Data Collected" labels that he found to be covertly collecting user data, such as Rumble, Maps.me, and FunDo Pro. He also found the popular game Match 3D to be "sending an ID for my phone that could be used to track me to more than a dozen different companies," despite having a label that claimed it only took "data not linked to you." Match 3D has since updated its label to reflect "data used to track you."

In response to the report, Apple said it "conducts routine and ongoing audits of the information provided" and works with developers to correct any inaccuracies, adding that "apps that fail to disclose privacy information accurately may have future app updates rejected, or in some cases, be removed from the App Store entirely if they don't come into compliance."

This issue will be partially addressed by Apple's upcoming enforcement of a privacy measure it calls App Tracking Transparency. Starting with the next betas of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, developers will be required to get a user's permission to track their activity across other apps and websites and access their device's random advertising identifier, known as the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), for targeted advertising and ad measurement purposes.

Apple said that, at the software level, App Tracking Transparency will prevent developers from accessing a user's IDFA unless they grant permission, preventing an app from silently tracking their activity in this manner. However, there are still other ways for apps to track users, so the accuracy of privacy labels will still not be guaranteed.

Top Rated Comments

macintoshmac Avatar
27 months ago
So what exactly is Apple's team doing with the app submission process, if not to check apps?
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sniffies Avatar
27 months ago
Honor system? ?????
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
upandown Avatar
27 months ago
Disgusting and not surprising in the least. The small guy is no different than Facebook.

I really hope Apple enforces bans with no exception. Otherwise they are just providing lip service and wasting everyone’s time.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redcaptrickster Avatar
27 months ago
Did anyone think, even for a second, that this was going to "fix" the issue?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redcaptrickster Avatar
27 months ago

More than 12? Out of how many?
It's like cockroaches, though. Where there's 12, there's 1200.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redcaptrickster Avatar
27 months ago

I cannot fathom why the Amazon app is using Health & Fitness Data

eta: Unless its because I use biometrics??
So they can blackmail you into buying vitamins and treadmills at a later date.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off) [Updated]

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
mac studio pink

Apple May Not Launch Updated Mac Studio With M2 Ultra Chip Due to Similarity With Upcoming Mac Pro

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:06 am PST by
A new version of the Mac Studio with the "M2 Ultra" chip is unlikely to arrive in the near future, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that since the upcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is "very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio," Apple may wait until the release of M3- or M4-series chips to update the machine, or...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Orange

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3.1 and HomePod 16.3.1 Software Updates

Monday February 6, 2023 10:13 am PST by
Apple today released new tvOS 16.3.1 and HomePod 16.3.1 software updates, with the software coming two weeks after the tvOS 16.3 and HomePod 16.3 updates were released. According to Apple's release notes for HomePod software 16.3.1, the update includes general performance and stability improvements. Notes for tvOS 16.3.1 are unavailable as of yet, but are probably similar to the HomePod...
iPhone 15 Pro Blue Feature

iPhone 15 Pro 'Buttonless Design' Rumors: Everything We Know

Monday February 6, 2023 7:44 am PST by
The iPhone 15 Pro models will feature a "buttonless design" thanks to additional Taptic Engines, according to multiple corroborated reports, so what do we know about the change so far? Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was first to report that the volume and power buttons on this year's two high-end iPhone models will adopt a solid-state design, similar to the iPhone 7's home button, replacing a...
iphone ultra concept daehnert

'iPhone Ultra' Concept Envisions Apple's Rumored Future Top-Tier Smartphone

Tuesday February 7, 2023 5:38 am PST by
Apple has reportedly considered releasing a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside future Pro and Pro Max models, tentatively referred to as "iPhone Ultra," and one designer has taken it upon himself to envision what such a device could potentially look like. German industrial designer Jonas Daehnert came up with this impressive-looking concept (pictured) by marrying design elements of the...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...