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Apple Doubles Down On Data Privacy

Data

Apple has officially launched a new privacy website to help its users navigate just how much of their data is collected by the company in a move designed to pre-empt an EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into force Friday.

Altruistic it is not: The GDRP aims to prevent personal data from being used without express consent, and the penalty for non-compliance can be as high as 4 percent of a company's global revenue. In the case of Apple, non-compliance could mean a fine of more than $9 billion.

Europe takes privacy very seriously, and arguably much more seriously than the United States.

The GDRP amends rules for companies that collect, store or process information on residents of the European Union, requiring more openness about what data they have and with whom they are sharing it, or planning to share it.

While the new law only applies in the E.U., many companies have amended their policies elsewhere—seeing the writing on the wall.

The GDPR was actually passed by EU Parliament two years ago but the deadline to comply with the law hadn’t been set; at least, until the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal suddenly may this all the more urgently relevant.

And that’s not all Apple is doing about data privacy. Earlier this month, Apple started removing iOS apps that share location data with third-parties, saying they are violating two points of the App Store Review Guidelines.  

In the letter it sent to the affected developers, the company said they must "remove any code, frameworks, or SDKs that aid location sharing without clear user consent and then resubmit their app for review.

For now, though, it remains unclear how many developers or apps have been or will be affected. Related: How Far Can Gold Prices Fall?

Last year saw the apparent first-ever decline in the number of apps on Apple’s App Store, dropping from 2.2 million to 2.1 million due to stricter rules, though not specifically related to location-sharing with third parties. Much of it had to do with getting rid of spam.

But this decline is counter to the trend for other platforms. Google’s Play Store saw a 17-percent increase in apps to 3.6 million during that same time period.

So does that mean Apple is being more vigilant with our data privacy? It would seem so.

There are no indications that Google plans to follow suit with stepped-up data privacy measures, and last month it even found itself entangled in allegations that thousands of apps in its store were violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

A study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley “identified several concerning violations and trends” after evaluating nearly 6,000 child-directed Android apps from the US Play Store—all of which are included in Google’s Designed-for-Families program.

For Facebook, Europe will be a bumpy ride, indeed. Facebook allows users to see all their data collected, but Europe still isn’t happy what will all the scandalous baggage it’s carrying around.

Facebook hero-to-zero Mark Zuckerberg has been grilled by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and apologized to his 2.2 billion users, investors, developers and advertisers, but it’s not going to be enough to get by European data privacy laws.

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On Tuesday, Zuckerberg hit up the European Parliament, conceding that the social media giant had been used as a platform for fake news and had abused the private information of users. But Europe won’t be nearly as forgiving.

The way Zuckerberg’s parliamentary address unfolded indicates as much. European parliamentarians grilled Zuckerberg over whether Facebook is a monopoly, and were more than irritated at getting non-committal, vague responses.

“I asked you six ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions, and I got not a single answer,” Belgian MP Guy Verhofstadt said.

By Michael Scott for Safehaven.com

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