Apple Bans Cryptocurrency Mining, Limits Access To Friends Data

Apple has issued a new ban against applications that do cryptocurrency mining on iOS devices, and the company will also limit how developers use its customers’ friends data.

Apple Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Apps

Earlier this year, some third-party developers started “innovating” with their business models by installing cryptocurrency miners on people’s phones instead of showing ads or charging money for the app.

In theory, this wouldn’t necessary be a terrible thing to do, as long as the users know about it ahead of time. However, battery life is quite important for a smartphone and cryptocurrency miners will drain a phone’s battery quite quickly. In the end, that wouldn’t lead to a good user experience, especially if more developers start employing this type of business model.

Apple wanted to put a stop to that before this idea spreads to other developers, and it has now updated its App Store policies to explicitly prohibit cryptocurrency mining on iOS devices, as well as any other application that will abuse a phone’s battery life. The policy states the following:

“Design your app to use power efficiently. Apps should not rapidly drain battery, generate excessive heat, or put unnecessary strain on device resources. Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.”

Apple Limits Use Of Friends Data

After the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, Apple seems to have also realized that its APIs, which allow access to some of users’ friends data, could be abused in a similar manner -- this way third-party developers could harvest data on millions of users from only thousands.

According to Bloomberg, some third-party developers have been asking users for phone contacts permission only to then sell that data to others, as part of their app monetization strategy.

Apple’s new App Store rules now also forbid developers from sharing or selling users’ phone contacts. Additionally, apps can no longer claim that they use the phone data for one thing, and then use it for something else. This would also be in line with the GDPR requirements.

As another privacy feature, Apple recently promised users that the new version of Safari to be released this fall will block companies (such as Facebook) from creating “shadow profiles” on users based on what they do on other websites.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • derekullo
    iOS abuses my phone's battery life ...
  • sykozis
    I'm trying to figure out how these sites and app developers who distribute crypto-miners without the consent of the device owner aren't facing criminal charges yet. In the US, it's illegal to knowingly and/or willingly distribute malware. When installed or run without the consent of device owners, crypto-miners meet the criteria for being deemed as malware. As such, websites and app developers distributing crypto-miners are violating US law unless they specifically inform the owner of said device that they are installing and running a crypto-miner on the device as part of the app or website.
  • Zaporro
    Good, we need to get rid altogether of this crypto scam.
  • Christopher1
    Zaporro, move on. That is not going to happen in the real world and it is not a 'scam'.