Sign In

Communications of the ACM


Mobile-App Privacy Nutrition Labels Missing Key Ingredients for Success

hands holding a smartphone, security concept

Credit: Getty Images

Having advocated for and conducted research on short standardized privacy notices for the past two decades, I was excited when I heard Apple and Google would roll out mobile-app privacy "nutrition labels" (short-form, standardized privacy policies) in their respective app stores. However, when the first iOS labels appeared at the end of 2020, my excitement was replaced with disappointment. The iOS labels were not prominently placed, used confusing terminology, and too often seemed inconsistent with information in the apps' privacy policy. In April 2022, labels appeared in the Android app store that took a different approach from iOS yet appeared to suffer from similar problems.

I wasn't the only one disappointed. A New York Times reporter wrote that the iOS labels were, "often illuminating," but complained that they "created more confusion."2 A Washington Post reporter wrote about apps that deceptively claim on their labels that they don't collect data, when in fact they do.8 In February 2021, members of the U.S. Congress wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook with concerns that app labels were misleading consumers.3


No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.