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Deleting iPhone app accounts is about to get easier – here’s how

Giving users more control over how their personal data is used has been a major focus for Apple over the last couple of years, as iPhone users seek greater privacy.

The latest initiative will give iPhone and iPad owners the opportunity to easily delete their accounts from apps they no longer use or wish to use.

Starting from January 31 next year, all developers submitting applications to the App Store “must allow users to initiate deletion of their account from within the app” if that app supports account creation.

Considering many apps require sign-up and the surrender of some personal information to make use of features, this is an important step towards giving users more power to delete those accounts.

However, that doesn’t mean to say there’ll be a simple button within the app. The “initiate deletion” wording means users might be farmed out to an external website to complete the deed.

In a post on the Apple developer site, Apple says: “The updates to App Store Review Guideline 5.1.1 last June provided users with greater control over their personal data, stating that all apps that allow for account creation must also allow users to initiate deletion of their account from within the app. This requirement applies to all app submissions starting January 31, 2022. We encourage you to review any laws that may require you to maintain certain types of data, and to make sure your app clearly explains what data your app collects, how it collects that data, all uses of that data, your data retention/deletion policies, and more as described in the guideline. Examples of this type of data include electronic health records, and sales and warranty records. Please also confirm that the app privacy information on your product page is accurate.”

The refreshed App Store guidelines, first announced at WWDC in June, come after other recent policy adjustments designed to protect users from handing over too much of their personal data to third-party app makers.

The Sign-in With Apple initiative, for example, means users can register for accounts without having to hand over their email address to then be spammed. The so-called ‘nutrition labels’ on App Store listings require developers to list the data they are collecting and for what reason. Also, new notifications within iOS give users the option of opting out of developers tracking their activity across the web for data collection and advertising purposes.

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