Lots of popular iPhone apps ‘secretly take screenshots of your phone’

Isaac Cain
February 9, 2019

"Apps must request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity", Apple said in an email to TechCrunch.

TechCrunch noted it's "impossible" to know if an app is recording a user's screen without analysing the data of each app and there was no mention of such activity in the apps' small print.

The Glassbox session replays are essentially real-time videos of how you interact with the app.

According to a TechCrunch report, several popular iPhone apps from hotels, travel sites, airlines, carriers, and banks, track everything you do inside the app.

It's a foregone conclusion that app makers will get at least some data on how you use their product.

On the other hand, the report also stated that most of the apps evaluated in this manner did not exhibit unmasked data.

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"The significant chunk of apps like Abercrombie & Fitch use the third party technologies from Glassbox to record the" session replay" technology. However, TechCrunch found that not all apps that are using Glassbox's tech are masking data fields properly, leaving sensitive information exposed in the screen recordings. These apps are not even masking the information such as passport number, credit card, and other sensitive data. Also, some session replays reportedly compromised sensitive user information.

Not every app was leaking masked data and companies like Expedia and Hotels.com were capturing the data but sending it back to a server on their own domain. But even if their intentions are pure, they should still disclose exactly what they're doing and take every measure to protect your data.

TechCrunch queried companies that employ Glassbox technology inside their apps about The App Analyst's reported findings.

While all of the apps that are submitted to the App Store need to backed by a privacy policy, the report did not find any of the apps the company reviewed mentioning screen recording in their policies. These are effectively screen recordings extracted from users without their express consent.

TechCrunch covered apps that use the "Glassbox" software app developers can embed in their apps. Screenshots are sent back either directly to the company's servers or Glassbox's cloud. This information helps companies better understand how consumers are using their services, and where and why they are struggling. The first step, he says, is having companies be more honest about how they collect their users' data and who they share it with.

However, Abercrombie said that using Glassbox "helps support a seamless shopping experience, enabling us to identify and address any issues customers might encounter in their digital experience", according to 9to5Mac.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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