Chinese authorities, for example, have issued a warning that no less than 33 mobile applications, including a bunch of navigation apps from tech giants like Baidu and Tencent, are accessing all kinds of user details they don’t really need, and in many cases, they do the whole thing without asking for consent.
This is obviously serious business, and the Chinese Cyberspace Administration warns that all developers need to update their apps to align with the local privacy guidelines or otherwise be subject to penalties. The updates must be released to users in a maximum of 10 days, the regulator warns, explaining that the data some apps are trying to collect is extremely sensitive and in some cases includes contact lists.
On a similar front, tech giant Apple has recently launched a new iOS update that forces developers to inform users whenever their apps are trying to track them across other apps or websites.
Called App Tracking Transparency, the new policy requires app makers to display a prompt upon launch, essentially giving users the option to block the tracking if they don’t agree with their data to be accessed. In some cases, the collected information is accessed by third parties or resold to other companies to provide targeted advertising, with Apple warning that consumers could end up becoming a product per se.
China has introduced a new set of rules to protect Internet users, including a policy that blocks developers from banning users who don’t agree to provide personal information not required for the apps to work properly.