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Data: Apple; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Apple this week posted new privacy "nutrition labels" on apps in the iOS App Store, giving users a look at how different apps stack up according to Apple's standards.

The big picture: The labels show that generally, social media apps collect more kinds of data than messaging apps.

  • Messaging apps owned by Facebook, like Whatsapp and Messenger, appear to collect more data than some of their peers, per Apple's labeling standards.
  • Signal, which is run by a privacy-focused non-profit, collects virtually no data from its users.

The big picture: The labels are meant to serve as an easy-to-view summary of how apps collect user data for users to review before they install a new app.

  • Apple does post privacy labels for its own apps, like Messages, but they do not appear in the App Store, since these apps are pre-installed. A user has to find the labels on the web separately.

Yes, but: Some developers, like Facebook's messaging service WhatsApp, worry that the summaries are too broad and could spook users into thinking they collect more data than they do.

  • The labels are one part of a larger battle between Apple and Facebook over Apple's efforts to tighten privacy rules, which Facebook argues could harm small businesses who benefit from ad tracking.
  • "We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used," Tim Cook tweeted Thursday. "Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first."

Details: Apple identified a set of data types including purchases, financial information, location, contact information, diagnostics, search history, health & fitness, browsing history, and more. An app may collect each of these types of data in three ways:

  1. "Data linked to you" is data that is tied to a users' identity via information from their device, account on an app, and other sources.
  2. "Data used to track you" is data that links user or device data collected from an app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps or websites for the purpose of targeted advertising or ad measurement. It could also refer to sharing user or device data with data brokers.
  3. "Data not linked to you" is data that cannot be linked to the user in any identifying way.

Between the lines: It's helpful to know the number of data types an app collects from you, but that doesn't give you any insight into the actual volume of data the app may be collecting.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 13, 2021 - Technology

Apple's latest moves on racial equity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Funding for a new developer academy in Detroit is one of several moves Apple is announcing today as it implements the $100 million racial equity and justice effort it announced last June.

The big picture: The tech industry is putting more money into racial equity efforts, but progress in diversifying its own ranks remains slow.

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 1 hour ago - World

Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Wang Zhao - Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

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