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Popular iPhone Apps Including Expedia and Abercrombie & Fitch Secretly Record Users' Screens

10 February 2019

Apple is tightening up developer rules for apps on its App Store, following an investigation by TechCrunch that some companies are using third-party analytics tools to record user movements inside the app. Not only can they record activity, but they can also screenshot your screen as well as document when you tap, swipe, type or push buttons within the app. While they are created to mask such data, TechCrunch reported that Air Canada's app was not properly masking information such as users' passport and credit card numbers.

As per the research and study, we will come to know that various numbers of iOS apps are privately negotiating users data and information about specifically what users are doing using Glassbox's "session replay" technology. iOS apps such as Hotels.com, Expedia, and Abercrombie & Fitch privately negotiated users' data.

The companies use a service provided by Glassbox, a tech firm that helped develop their apps. The company "doesn't enforce its customers" to mention that they use Glassbox's screen recording tools in their privacy policies.

Apple's love of privacy, but it turns out some iPhone apps might be recording users' screens without them knowing it. App developers are now being told to either remove or disclose their use of codes in their app, which screen records the users' interaction within a particular app, under the App Store guidelines.

Apple will remove screen recording apps if they don't own up
Apple to developers: disclose screen recording or get booted from App Store

One of the developers told TechCrunch that such action would include removing their app from the App Store if it isn't following the guidelines. "We firmly believe that our customers should have clear policies in place so that consumers are aware that their data is being recorded - just as contact centers inform users that their calls are being recorded." . This third-party firm embed this technology in the mobile app. These screenshots are either sent for analysis either to the app developers directly or to Glassbox, who then sends them to the app makers. The apps involved with the aforementioned company are from airlines, hotel and travel services, banks, financiers, retailers, and even carriers.

Glassbox and its customers are not interested in "spying" on consumers.

Apple is also giving the developers a day's time to remove the code that is enabling the app to record user's screens. The companies, including Glassbox, vow that their recordings are encrypted and mask sensitive data automatically, including keyboard presses. The app, called Research and sometimes referred to as Project Atlas, gave Facebook complete visibility into users' app activity, web searches, encrypted data, and even private messages. This can be used for testing and troubleshooting.

Popular iPhone Apps Including Expedia and Abercrombie & Fitch Secretly Record Users' Screens