A few months ago, the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) released the outcomes of the research about privacy terms within mobile applications conducted in May 2014. The sweep included more than 1,200 apps, both for iOS and Android, free and paid, all the way from games to news apps. Here are some of the highlights (source: DLAPiper.com).
As we continually build our proximity-based mobile app, Compass.to, the more we get into discussions and conversations about privacy, data collection, and users’ trust. While it’s safe to say that trust has escalated to the top positions of the priority lists of major corporations and startups, it is also one of hardest challenges companies face in the big data world. Below are some key points to consider from the GPEN research, however, this will continue to evolve over the years.
- Three quarters of the apps requested at least one permission from its users, usually relating to location, device ID, access to other accounts, camera and contacts;
- Nearly one third of the apps appeared to request access to information which seemed irrelevant to the functionalities of the app;
- In almost 60% of the cases, it was difficult to find any privacy related information before installing the app;
- Over 40% of the apps’ privacy policies were not easily readable on small screens;
- The majority of apps, 85%) fails to provide clear information on the collection, use and disclosure of personal data;
- The report praises the use of pop-ups, layered information (putting important information up front with links embedded to more details) and just-in-time notification (informing the users of potential collections or uses of information when they are about to happen).
After reading these findings, it is inevitable to think about how the concept of privacy has been transformed thanks to the digital age and even more so, how Millenials are crucial at defining clear standards and being privacy transparent. The most relevant takeaway of the research is the fact that users (a.k.a people like you and me) are more prone to download and use an app when the privacy terms are shared in a clear language.
The other important aspect of being privacy transparent is to share in a timely and concise manner what the collected data is being used for. Back in 2013, the Daily Mail revealed some of the ‘worst apps for taking personal details without letting you know’. Included are popular game apps such as Angry Birds, Dictionary.com, Pandora, and Shazam.