Apple's new privacy-label database lets you see what data its apps gather on you
The database of privacy labels for Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV apps tells you exactly what data gets collected when you use them.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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That means anyone running any of Apple's apps on a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad, an Apple Watch or an Apple TV can quickly check to see exactly what data is getting gobbled up.
"Transparency is the best policy," reads the heading atop Apple's database of apps. "Our privacy labels are designed to help you understand how apps handle your data, including apps we develop at Apple."
To check out the database, just head to this link, which includes details for each and every one of the company's apps across iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, WatchOS and TVOS. There are lots, but if you search or scroll through the alphabetical list and find the app you're curious about, you'll see details on the types of data it gathers, and whether that data is tied to your identity.
For instance, the Compass app for iOS collects your location data whenever you use it, but that data isn't linked to your identity. Meanwhile, the Messages app collects your contact info, your search history, and other identifiers linked to who you are.
That privacy label for the Messages app was a sticking point for WhatsApp, which argued last year that iPhone users would never see it, because the Messages app comes preinstalled. That's anticompetitive, the company argued, as most people who use Messages wouldn't encounter the same privacy disclosures Apple was requiring of competitors like WhatsApp.
Though the online database is new, Apple points out to CNET that privacy labels have been available for all first-party Apple apps since December, when the feature first launched. WhatsApp didn't immediately return a request for comment.