Apple will require all apps to have a privacy policy as of October 3

Apple is cracking down on applications that do not communicate to users how they use, secure or share their personal data. In an ad posted to developers through the App Store Connect portal, Apple says that all applications, including those that are still in testing, should have a privacy policy as of October 3, 2018.

Allow applications without privacy policies is something of an obvious hole that Apple should have already covered, given its generally protective nature over user data. But the change is even more critical now that Europe's GDPR regulations have come into force. Although the application creators themselves would be responsible for the data of their customers, Apple, as the platform where those applications are hosted, also has some responsibility here.

Today, platforms are responsible for the behavior of their applications, and the misuse of data that may occur as a result of their own policies around those applications.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, was dragged before the US Senate. UU for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the data of 87 million Facebook users were obtained inappropriately through Facebook applications.

Apple's new requirement, therefore, provides the company with a layer of protection: any application that falls into cracks in the future may be held responsible through its own privacy policy and the statements it contains.

Apple also notes that the link or the text of the privacy policy can not be changed until the developer submits a new version of its application. It seems that there is still a bit of loopholes here: if the developers add a link pointing to an external web page, they can change what the web page says at any time after their application is approved.

The new policy will be mandatory for all applications and application updates in the App Store, as well as through the TestFlight test platform from October 3, says Apple.

What is not clear is whether Apple will review all privacy policies as part of this change, in order to reject applications with questionable data use policies or user protections. If you do so, the App Store review times may increase, unless the company contracts more staff.

Apple has already adopted a position on applications that it finds questionable, such as the VPN Onavo application, which was expelled from the App Store earlier this month. The application had been live for years, however, and its App Store text made disclose the data it collected was shared with Facebook. The fact that Apple only started it now seems to indicate that it will take a tougher stance with applications that are designed to collect user data as one of its main functions in the future.

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