How Decisions by Apple and Google obstruct App Privacy


  • Konrad Kollnig Faculty of Law, Maastricht University
  • Nigel Shadbolt Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford



app stores, Digital Services Act, privacy, data protection, online platforms, Apple, Google, iOS, Android, apps


Ample past research highlighted that privacy problems are widespread in mobile apps and can have disproportionate impacts on individuals. However, doing such research, especially through automated methods, remains hard and has become an arms race with those who engage in invasive data practices. This paper analyses how decisions by Apple and Google, the makers of the two primary app ecosystems (iOS and Android), currently hold back (automated) app privacy research and thereby create systemic risks that have previously not been systematically documented. Such an analysis is timely and pertinent since the newly enacted EU Digital Services Act (DSA) obliges Very Large Online Platforms to enable ‘vetted researchers’ to study systemic risks (Article 40) and to put in place reasonable, proportionate and effective mitigation measures against systemic risks (Article 35).


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Author Biographies

Konrad Kollnig, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University

Konrad Kollnig is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University. Previously, he studied computer science and mathematics in Aachen, Edinburgh and Oxford.

Nigel Shadbolt, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford

Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Computing Science at the Computer Science Department of Oxford University and Principal of Jesus College, Oxford. In 2012, he co-founded the Open Data Institute, together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee.



26-09-2023 — Updated on 02-10-2023


How to Cite

Kollnig, K., & Shadbolt, N. (2023). How Decisions by Apple and Google obstruct App Privacy. Technology and Regulation, 2023, 10–21. (Original work published September 26, 2023)



Received 2022-10-25
Accepted 2023-06-28
Published 2023-10-02