Apple has sent a warning to developers that are covertly recording your screen while using their apps. The iPhone manufacturer has told them to pull the code responsible or risk having their apps banned from the store.
The issue came to light after TechCrunch reported that hidden code in some apps was recording users without their permission. Apple says that any app which behaves in this way must get explicit user consent first.
Apple is reportedly taking a particularly hard line on this, apparently telling one company to strip the code within a day or face its app being pulled.
Even worse, the code – which comes from a company called Glassbox – has not been masking some sensitive information. That means that some users passport details and credit card numbers may have been sent to companies.
Glassbox says that its customers, the firms which develop the apps, are given tools to mask any sensitive data but The App Analyst found that the Air Canada app wasn’t correctly doing so and that sensitive data was available to employees of the airline.
Many apps tested didn’t send personal information but none of them warned users that their screens were being recorded.
The screen recording, in itself, isn’t intended as malicious. The idea is to collect data about how users interact with apps and to then improve the experience.
Glassbox released a lengthy statement to Engadget about the matter claiming that there was no nefarious intent. It reassured users that all data is sent to its servers encrypted and not shared with third parties.
The company also said that it expected its clients – firms like Air Canada and Hotels.com – to inform the public that their apps would collect this data.
However TechCruch also maintains that some apps use data like this, as well as location information, to create revenue. This information is used by ad networks to sell adverts that are more accurate and based on users location history.
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