Apple is reportedly cracking down on iOS apps that use screen-recording technology, telling developers that they must “disclose or remove their use of analytics code that allows them to record how a user interacts with their iPhone apps”.
This follows reports by TechCrunch and the App Analyst that revealed iOS applications from the likes of Air Canada, Abercrombie and Fitch, Singapore Airlines, Expedia, and Hotels.com have used “session replay” technology from data analytics company Glassbox to record user’s screens while using their apps.
While the software can prevent sensitive data like credit card information or passwords being recorded by blocking it out, the App Analyst found that this feature was not always successful, leading to personal information being displayed.
In a statement sent to TechRadar, Glassbox claimed the TechCunch report was “misleading”, and that Glassbox and its customers are “not interested in ‘spying’ on consumers.”
Glassbox also claims that “no data collected by Glassbox customers is shared with third parties”, and that it meets the “highest security and data privacy standards”.
In response to the App Analyst’s YouTube video, which showed sensitive information on display within the Air Canada app, Glassbox says: “We provide our customers with the ability to mask every piece of data entered by a consumer, restrict access to authorized users, and maintain a full audit log of every user accessing the system.”
An Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch that “protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.”
The spokesperson went on to say that Apple has “notified the developers that are in violation of these strict privacy terms and guidelines, and will take immediate action if necessary,” which suggests some of these apps could face removal from the App Store if they don’t comply.
According to TechCrunch, one app developer was given less than a day to “remove the code and resubmit their app or the app would be removed from the App Store.”
This doesn’t mean that screen-recording technology will become a thing of the past in the App Store, as it looks like developers could still use data analytics companies like Glassbox to record their users’ screens, provided they seek consent from the user beforehand.