Apple moves to stop ‘screen recording’ apps

Credit: Apple

Apple has confirmed it will look to crack down on potentially privacy-invading apps that have the ability to record every action a user takes on their screen.

It was reported last week by TechCrunch that many popular iOS apps have 'screen recording' technology that takes note of every swipe and tap a user makes when using them. This can later be used to create 'session replays' that allow developers to see exactly how people are interacting with their software.

The publication noted that companies across multiple sectors make use of this technology, including retailers, hotels, airlines and financial services providers.

Air Canada, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Expedia are among the familiar names that use solutions from data analytics firm Glassbox to do this, often without the user's knowledge or consent.

Although such tools are intended to offer developers insight into how their app is used and are supposed to block out any potentially-sensitive personal information, the report noted this does not always work as it is supposed to.

For instance, mobile expert App Analyst found that Air Canada's iPhone app was not properly masking session replays when they were sent back.

"This lets Air Canada employees – and anyone else capable of accessing the screenshot database – see unencrypted credit card and password information," App Analyst said.

In response, Apple has reminded developers that they must disclose the use of such technology clearly to consumers, or remove any screen recording code from their apps.

A spokesperson for the tech firm told TechCrunch: "Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity."
 
They added the company has notified developers that have been identified as violating these privacy terms. Indeed, TechCrunch noted that one developer was given less than a day to remove the code and resubmit their app, or face the prospect of it being banned from the App Store.