Apple has removed Bitdefender’s iPhone privacy app, Clueful, from its App Store.
The app was launched in May, and was the first iOS app that could reveal to users what private data other apps were able to access. Bitdefender described Clueful as the only app able to “identify potentially misbehaving apps on your iPhone, giving you an inside look at all the information app developers can gather about you.”
Today, however, Bitdefender announced that Clueful has been removed from Apple’s App Store.
In a press release with the strapline: “Apple reverses decision to approve Clueful for App Store,” Bitdefender revealed: “Apple informed Bitdefender’s product development team of the removal – for reasons we are studying – after it was approved under the same ruled.”
“Clueful was created under the belief that iPhone owners should be able to learn which apps may be behaving unscrupulously with their personal data,” the release continues. “The Clueful team reaffirms its commitment to continued development of Clueful and will resubmit to Apple.”
The Clueful app enabled Bitdefender to analyse more than 65,000 apps. The research found that 41 per cent of apps can track an iPhone’s location, while almost one in five apps can access a user’s iPhone Address Book and more than a third of apps store data without encrypting it.
Bitdefender claims that it is common for location tracking to be used to tailor adverts to a user’s geo-location. The location information can also be sold to companies to help them build more effective marketing campaigns. Some apps even access the iPhone’s Unique Device Identifier (UDID), which can reveal a users identity, says Bitdefender.
“It is worrying stored encryption on iOS apps is low and location tracking is so prevalent,” said Catalin Cosoi, Chif Security Researcher at Bitdefender. Without notification of what an app accesses, it is difficult to control what information users give up. We see a worrying landscape of poor user data encryption, prevalent location tracking and silent, unjustified Address Book access.
“While most app developers use this information for legitimate purposes, others might not,” said Cosoi. “Clueful was the best way for iPhone owners to know the difference. While Clueful remains off the App Store, we are working hard towards understanding why our app was removed and to develop the app to improve its chances of staying there.