Nearly 1,000,000 Apps rejected from Apple App Store for Privacy Violations

Edward G. | June 06, 2023

From 2020 to 2022, Apple has rejected 958,000 applications from appearing on the App Store due to privacy violations, recent findings by Atlas VPN reveal.  

Apple has shared three annual reports on App Store fraud prevention since 2020, detailing how many fraudulent transactions they stopped, how many apps were rejected, user and developer accounts terminated, and similar data. 

Here, Atlas VPN analyzes all three of those reports in a single article to find trends and get a broader view of Apple’s App Store moderation efforts. 

One of the outliers in the year-over-year fraud prevention data is the number of apps rejected for privacy violations. 

The number of applications rejected due to privacy issues nearly doubled, from 215,000 rejections in 2020 to 400,000 in 2022. 

User privacy is a major concern, as there have been instances where apps collect more data than necessary or share it with third parties without proper disclosure or user consent. 

Many users may not fully understand the privacy implications of using certain apps or may not pay close attention to the permissions they grant when installing an app and unknowingly grant access to sensitive information.

To address these concerns, Apple has implemented various measures to protect user privacy, including app review guidelines, privacy labels, and app tracking transparency features.

The app tracking transparency feature added to App Store’s infrastructure in 2021 requires apps to ask users for permission to track them.

Another privacy-related feature is email address shielding which makes it harder for third parties to link users’ web activity across different services.

Despite Apple’s best efforts, it’s important to remember that the app review process is far from ideal and cannot ensure that iOS users are always safe from fraud and scams, much alone privacy issues. 

Apple stopped $5 bn in fraudulent transactions

One of the main focal points of Apple’s fraud prevention strategy is stopping fraudulent transactions. 

Since 2020, Apple has prevented over $5.09 billion in potentially fraudulent payments and blocked 10.2 stolen credit cards from transacting.

“Apple takes credit card fraud extremely seriously, and remains committed to protecting the App Store and its users from this kind of stress.” Apple states in their annual report. 

Apple touts security to avoid third-party stores

One angle worth considering as to why Apple began releasing its fraud-prevention reports is to indirectly stand against the constant pressure to open up iPhones and iPads to third-party app stores.

One of the main arguing points by Tim Cook as to why sideloading and third-party app stores should not be allowed is privacy issues: “data-hungry companies would be able to avoid our privacy rules, and once again track our users against their will,” he worryingly stated in IAPP conference in Washington, D.C. last year. 

It’s worth noting that Apple's stance on third-party app stores has faced criticism and scrutiny from developers and regulators who argue that it limits competition and innovation. 

In recent years, Apple has made some changes to its policies, such as allowing alternative in-app payment systems for certain categories of apps, but the overall control of app distribution remains primarily within the App Store.

The App Store is a significant revenue source for Apple, as they take a 30% commission on most app purchases and in-app transactions. Allowing third-party app stores could potentially disrupt this financial model and revenue stream.

Edward G.

Edward G.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.

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