Are Apps Really Recording Your iPhone’s Screen?

Masking sensitive data sometimes failed in Air Canada session replays

This potentially sinister embed means a users every interaction is essentially recorded via screenshots. Further, the apps also don't seek user consent regarding screen recording. "However, Air Canada does not - and can not - capture phone screens outside of the Air Canada app". By reviewing the taps and swipes made by an iPhone user while using an app, a developer can see if certain features of the interface failed to do the job they were created to do. Add the fact that the use of Glassbox analytics doesn't require any permission from the user or Apple, and you've got a ideal storm of pseudo-iPhone user snooping. These apps use technology from a customer experience analytics firm called Glassbox.

"Since this data is often sent back to Glassbox servers I wouldn't be shocked if they have already had instances of them capturing sensitive banking information and passwords", he told TechCrunch. It pushes a product called "session replay", allowing app makers to see what users do in the app. The report also adds that apps like Air Canada and other travel websites that include fields in which users enter sensitive information such as passport numbers, credit card numbers and other financial and personal information. When masking of the replay session failed, information such as passport numbers and credit card were exposed.

According to the expert, not every app was leaking masked data.

In a subsequent TechCrunch article, Apple put out a statement noting that it requires apps to request user consent and clearly indicate when apps are recording and logging data.

TechCrunch's investigation revealed that some of the other apps didn't mask email IDs and postal codes during session recordings.

While all of the companies that Techcrunch spoke to said the data they collect is in accordance with their privacy policies, none of the apps explicitly said they collected on-screen activity in this way.

Apple's response to this screen-recording controversy shows that its primary concern isn't necessarily the analytics code itself but the disclosure to users that such technology is being used.

TechCrunch found these apps via Glassbox's customer database. The company even mentions the Air Canada deal.

Apps haven't been up-front about this data collection. In detail, the "session replay" technology allows the companies to play and record the screen. But there was no clarity on where in Abercrombie and Hollister's privacy policies it is mentioned of screen recording.

Since the reports were published, an Air Canada spokesperson has told TechCrunch that it uses "customer provided information to ensure we can support their travel needs and to ensure we can resolve any issues that may affect their trips".

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