Apple responds to WhatsApp criticism, confirms its own apps will show privacy labels

WhatsApp shared criticism for Apple’s new app privacy label requirement today, saying they are unfair for two reasons. Now Apple has addressed arguably the biggest issue raised by detailing what it will be doing with privacy disclosures for its own apps.

The first issue that Facebook-owned WhatsApp shared with Axios about Apple’s app privacy labels is that it didn’t seem to apply to the company’s own apps that are preinstalled with iOS.

WhatsApp says that the provision is anti-competitive because Apple’s own encrypted messaging service, iMessage, is preinstalled on iPhones and doesn’t need to be downloaded from Apple’s app store, where the privacy labels are now required.

“We think labels should be consistent across first and third party apps,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told Axios.

“While providing people with easy to read information is a good start, we believe it’s important people can compare these ‘privacy nutrition’ labels from apps they download with apps that come pre-installed, like iMessage.”

Apple has now responded saying that its own apps will follow the same rules and privacy details will be available on its website for any apps that aren’t in the App Store (via Axios):

The new rules apply equally to all iOS apps, including all Apple‘s built-in apps like Messages. For iOS apps that don’t have dedicated product pages on the App Store, like Messages, they will still have the same privacy information be made available to users on Apple’s website.

WhatsApp also said the privacy labels are unfair as they don’t include enough detailed information, for example to “reflect the strong measures apps may take to protect people’s private information.” Time will tell if Apple evolves the feature to let developers share more specifics like this with users.

Apple required devs to share privacy details needed for the new labels on December 8. It’s unclear for now when they’ll appear on the App Store and Apple’s website.

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