It’s been a pretty interesting few weeks for Apple devices. The company that usually claims that they have the upper hand on their competition when it comes to protecting user privacy has had a few mishaps when it comes to user privacy. First, it was the FaceTime bug that allowed other users to listen in on contacts they were calling before they even answered. Though it was a bug, it was a pretty embarrassing and much worse than the issues that Apple competitors Google and Facebook are known for.
Now it’s been reported that there are a number of apps that record users screens to track activity and once again Apple is in the limelight for reasons to do with privacy or lack thereof. These are the applications causing problems;
- Abercrombie & Fitch,
- Air Canada,
- Singapore Airlines
These and other companies are recording every tap and swipe users make on their phone and in most cases, users won’t know because the apps do not request user permission. The assumption has always been that apps are collecting data from us without our knowledge. Some monetize that data and others may not but what’s pretty clear is that most developers seem to be harvesting data.
In this particular instance, the apps above partnered with Glassbox, an analytics firm and this allowed developers to embed “session replay” technology in their apps. This lets developers record screen the screen to see how users interact with their apps in order to see if there were errors. Glassbox tweeted about this exact behaviour;
Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it? This is no longer a hypothetical question, but a real possibility. This is Glassbox. Experience it for yourself: http://bit.ly/ThisIsGlassbox
These are pretty creepy policies that will continue to be the norm until another company is caught red-handed. Of all the applications listed above, none of them disclosed that this activity was taking place in their privacy policies, which could be an indicator that even they know the tactics they are using are not the most ethical.