“It is worrying stored data encryption on iOS apps is low and location tracking is so prevalent. Without notification of what an app accesses, it is difficult to control what information users give up… “We see a worrying landscape of poor user data encryption, prevalent location tracking and silent, unjustified, Address Book access.”
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In related news, BitDefender’s iOS tool for detecting these apps called Clueful was recently removed by Apple from the App Store. The app had been available since May, and the issue of apps collecting data without user permission clearly still exists, but its unclear why Apple decided to remove the Clueful app. BitDefender mentioned on its blog that it’s looking into the issue.
After an outcry from various consumer groups and government bodies, Apple promised earlier this year to implement stricter privacy controls and notifications for app developers requesting private user data. Apple will now do so as part of its data isolation privacy initiative in iOS 6. Many apps, like Path and Instagram, already implemented warnings for users on its own. However, in a recent beta, Apple described the changes coming to iOS 6:
According to the “Security” section of the release notes:
In iOS 6, the system now protects Calendars, Reminders, Contacts, and Photos as part of Apple’s data isolation privacy initiative.
Users will see access dialogs when an app tries to access any of those data types. The user can switch access on and off in Settings > Privacy.
There are APIs available to allow developers to set a “purpose” string that is displayed to users to help them understand why their data is being requested.
There are changes to the EventKit and Address Book frameworks to help developers with this feature..