U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Questions Apple on Accuracy of App Store Privacy Labels

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce this week sent a letter to Apple [PDF] inquiring about the accuracy of the App Privacy labels that Apple asked developers to start adding to apps back in December.

app store privacy labels iphone 12
In the letter, the committee asks Apple about reports suggesting that some App Privacy labels are offering "misleading and false information." The query was prompted by a January story from The Washington Post that found over a dozen apps with inaccurate privacy labels.

Apple requires developers to provide information on all of the data that an app collects, but developers are self-submitting the privacy label details on an honor system, without verification from Apple itself. Apple has said that it routinely audits the information that's provided and works with developers to correct inaccuracies, but it's impossible for the company to verify every app's privacy listing.

App developers that do get audited and are found to have failed to disclose accurate privacy information can have future app updates rejected or in some situations, the apps can be removed from the App Store entirely if not brought into compliance.

Committee members Frank Pallone and Jan Schakowsky told Apple that a privacy label is "no protection if it is false," in the letter that urges Apple to improve App Privacy labels.

"According to recent reports, App Privacy labels can be highly misleading or blatantly false. Using software that logs data transmitted to trackers, a reporter discovered that approximately one third of evaluated apps that said they did not collect data had inaccurate labels. A privacy label is no protection if it is false. We urge Apple to improve the validity of its App Privacy labels to ensure consumers are provided meaningful information about their apps' data practices and that consumers are not harmed by these potentially deceptive practices."

Apple has been asked to provide the following details on its App Privacy system:

  • Details on the process by which Apple audits the privacy information provided by app developers and how frequently audits are conducted;
  • How many of the apps audited since the implementation of the App Privacy label were found to have provided inaccurate or misleading information;
  • Whether Apple ensures that App Privacy labels are corrected upon the discovery of inaccuracies or misleading information; and
  • Details regarding Apple's enforcement policies when an app fails to provide accurate privacy information for the App Privacy label.

The committee asks that Apple send the requested information by February 23, so Apple has two weeks to craft a response.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Seoras Avatar
3 weeks ago
Am I alone in asking "why?". App Privacy Labels are ground breaking stuff and it's only weeks old.
Would it be too cynical to assume that those not happy with being forced to 'fess up about what their apps are doing are behind this through some form of lobbying?
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nexesnex Avatar
3 weeks ago

Am I alone in asking "why?". App Privacy Labels are ground breaking stuff and it's only weeks old.
Would it be too cynical to assume that those not happy with being forced to 'fess up about what their apps are doing are behind this through some form of lobbying?
Totally agree. Seems a little opportunistic of these politicians to subject Apple to such scrutiny so early.... It's like "Dear Apple, we never really cared when you didn't offer privacy info, but now that you do, you need to do everything right in week one."
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
eicca Avatar
3 weeks ago
Meanwhile, what is the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce doing about Facebook, Google, etc harvesting and selling user data by the truckload?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
grjj Avatar
3 weeks ago
where's the letter to Amazon:

Dear Human simulant,

We are curious about reports that many of the products on your site are labelled as authentic but customers receive counterfeit product when paying the full brand name price. We would like answers to the following questions:


* Details on the process by which Amazon audits the description provided by product sellers and how frequently audits are conducted;
* How many of the products audited since were found to have provided inaccurate or misleading information;
* Whether Amazon ensures that descriptions of products are corrected upon the discovery of inaccuracies or misleading information; and
* Details regarding Amazon's enforcement policies when an product description fails to provide accurate information for the actual product
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GuruZac Avatar
3 weeks ago
I’m enjoying this seemingly global crackdown on Big Tech. Whether it’s just posturing by governments is yet to be determined, however.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MauiPa Avatar
3 weeks ago
It seems the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce must back the idea of Privacy labeling if they want to know why developer submitted data is not accurate. Facebook is whining that they have to disclose data, and now the committee seems to be saying Apple should have more enforcement teeth. will the committee come out in favor of proper disclosures, and what about penalties to bad actors?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
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 ...
imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro

OLED 10.9-Inch iPad Rumored for Early 2022, 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Follow

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:37 pm PST by
Earlier today, DigiTimes shared a preview of an upcoming report claiming that Apple is working on both iPad and Mac notebook models with OLED displays that could launch starting in 2022. The full report from DigiTimes is now available, and it includes several new alleged details about Apple's plans. According to the report, the first of these devices to adopt an OLED display is likely to be...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
maxresdefault

What's on Your iPhone Home Screen?

Thursday March 4, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Over on our YouTube channel, MacRumors videographer Dan has a new video up where he shares his Home Screen, wallpaper, and all of his current favorite widgets. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Check out Dan's video to see his setup, and then comment below and show us your own Home Screens. It's always fun to see other peoples' Home Screens, and with widgets and...
OLED iPad Pro and MacBook Pro

iPad and MacBook Models With OLED Displays Rumored to Launch in 2022

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:19 am PST by
Apple plans to release new iPad and MacBook models with OLED displays in 2022, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The information was shared in the site's paywalled "Before Going to Press" section, so there are no further details yet, but the full report should be released by tomorrow. Apple has gradually increased its adoption of OLED...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...