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Apple now lets you see what data apps collect before you hit download

The privacy tool released with iOS 14.3 aims to increase transparency, but relies on developers to self-report the data their apps collect.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Apple on Monday launched its so-called app "nutrition labels" that inform people of the data an app requests before you download it. You can find the label in an app's App Store page, where you also see information like its ratings, price and screenshots. The update comes with the release of the latest version of Apple's operating system, iOS 14.3.

The privacy labels -- first announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June -- show information in two categories: data linked to you, and data used to track you. Here's a breakdown of what that includes:

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Apps on the iOS store will now explain how much data they're requesting.

Angela Lang/CNET

The labels are another move in Apple's continued push to increase privacy and user control, Apple says, joining recent privacy updates to Safari and changes to ad tracking. The privacy information is required for all apps across iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, WatchOS and TVOS when developers submit updates or new versions -- including for apps made by Apple. 

The labels require developers to self-report their privacy practices, however, as well as those of any third-party partners whose code is integrated into their app, and to keep those labels up to date -- which could in theory leave room for some to try to game the system

Apple says that the self-reporting process has worked effectively for years, for example, with self-reporting app age ratings. If the company learns that an app is not accurately representing its data collection processes, it will work with the developer to make sure the information is correct, Apple says. 

Starting Dec. 8, developers were required to enter this information to submit new apps and app updates to the App Store. Apple says it expects the program to evolve over time as it learns what works best for developers and users.

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