Tech

Popular iPhone apps are watching your every 'tap' and 'swipe' without consent

Popular iPhone apps are watching your every 'tap' and 'swipe' without consent

These apps have been found to literally record your iPhone screen, without asking for your permission or notifying you about it.

Many popular iPhone apps-including Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines-are using a technology called "session replay" from customer experience analytics firm Glassbox to record everything you do on your iPhone when using their app, reports TechCrunch. Since its inception, Glassbox has helped organizations improve millions of customer experiences by providing tools that record and analyze user activity on web sites and apps.

According to TechCrunch, none of the apps that were checked told users they were recording their screens or that they were sending the information back to each company.

App developers record the screen and play them back to see what people did in the app to see what people liked, disliked, or if an error occurred.

According a report by TechCrunch, some of the popular hotel, airline and retail apps are recording the iPhone screen without the consent of the users. This technology essentially allows developers to record displays and review how users interacted with their app. Apple Again in Trouble?

The recordings are made to see user behavior within a certain app.

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In an interview with TechCrunch, mobile expert "The App Analyst" claimed Air Canada had not been taking proper security caution with the "session replays", with employees able to see unencrypted private information entered by users.

Masking sensitive data sometimes failed in Air Canada session replays. The session replays were potentially exposing passport numbers and credit card data in each replay session. The report has stated the collected data had users interaction recorded within the respective apps that also include their gestures such as the taps and swipes.

When it comes to App Store and Apple's policies, the privacy policies of these apps don't mention recording the user's screen. There's literally no way a user can know their screen was being recorded all this time.

TechCrunch covered apps that use the "Glassbox" software app developers can embed in their apps. While collecting user data purely for creating better apps makes sense, it's also important that users are aware how much of their sensitive data could be escaping their device. The company even mentions the Air Canada deal. The app then beams the reply back to the Glassbox servers.

The company does this, its spokesperson said, to "ensure we can support their travel needs and to ensure we can resolve any issues that may affect their trips".

Such data collection isn't necessarily unusual providing the user has consented to it and the company collecting it puts in the effort to anonymise or obfuscate sensitive data that might be collected in the process.


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