WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has accused Apple of anti-competitive behavior because iMessage is preinstalled on iPhones and does not need to be downloaded from the App Store, where the new privacy labels will be shown.
“We think labels should be consistent across first and third party apps as well as reflect the strong measures apps may take to protect people’s private information,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told Axios. “While providing people with easy to read information is a good start, we believe it’s important people can compare these ‘privacy nutrition’ labels from apps they download with apps that come pre-installed, like iMessage.”
Apple has tried to streamline the privacy labels into broad terms such as “financial information” or “user content” to describe the kind of data that apps collect. WhatsApp says that these terms may worry users about the data WhatsApp collects, giving it a competitive disadvantage.
WhatsApp submitted the required information to Apple on Monday, but said in a blog post that “Apple’s template does not shed light on the lengths apps may go to protect sensitive information.” The spokesperson told Axios, “while WhatsApp cannot see people’s messages or precise location, we’re stuck using the same broad labels with apps that do.”
Apple’s privacy “nutrition labels” are part of a wider privacy effort following its iOS 14 update in September. The various updates, such as limits to app tracking, have attracted major criticism from Facebook and there is significant ongoing diasgreement between the companies.
The deadline for developers to submit the required privacy information about their apps was yesterday. It is unknown when exactly the privacy labels will begin appearing in the App Store, but now that the deadline for submissions has passed, they will likely be added soon.