Apple iOS users may not enjoy an easy view of their applications' data collection policies until iOS 6 is unveiled in the fall this year as Apple has removed BitDefender's Clueful, a privacy monitoring app from iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, according to the PCWorld.
Clueful is an awareness tool that helps iOS users understand the apps and how to use private data and treat user privacy. The product identifies intrusive applications and shows how they leverage data from the iOS platform.
Reasons for the removal are yet to be made known as Apple informed BitDefender's product development team about the removal occurred from App Store for reasons the company (read BitDefender) is studying. Existing iPhone owners who already use Clueful can continue to use the application.
In a July 19 press release, BitDefender said a careful analysis of more than 65,000 popular iOS apps had yielded three major privacy findings, including:
- 42.5 percent of apps do not encrypt users' personal data, even when accessed via public Wi-Fi
- 41.4 percent of apps were shown to track a user's location unbeknownst to them
- Almost one in five of the apps analyzed can access your entire Address Book, with some even sending your information to the Cloud without notification
In the press release, BitDefender chief security researcher Catalin Cosoi stated: While most app developers use this information for legitimate purposes, others might not.
The press release goes on to cite how BitDefender continues to work toward building data privacy awareness and develop products that can help consumers remain secure regardless of the platform.
A CNET report has cited how Apple declined to comment on the removal. The report goes on to add a possibility that the app may have violated a section of the company's App Review Guidelines covering, incorrect diagnostic or other inaccurate device data.
Clueful was released in late May and lasted for just two months on the App Store as it was removed June 29.
In an interview to CNET, Catalin Cosoi has revealed that BitDefender intends to bring the application back to the App Store. But once an updated Clueful returns to the App Store, Apple iOS may be launched and app privacy may have become more granular as iOS 6 requires apps to spell out the user data they need access to.
Cosoi remains optimistic of Clueful's prowess though, as he points out, Clueful will offer a lot more detail than what Apple serves up. Even though Apple is doing a lot in terms of security and privacy, we're trying to offer a lot of insight, he adds.
iOS 6's competitor Android employs apps such as LBE Privacy Guard and Lookout to perform a direct analysis on the users' app library. Though Lookout offers an iOS app, it comes without the Privacy Advisor feature.
Although Apple users may not have easy access to apps' data collection policies until the arrival of iOS 6 in the fall, things appear to be working in favor of the Cupertino-headquartered tech giant.