More than 20 privacy watchdogs from key countries are calling on mobile app developers to protect consumer information through pre-alerts and better access to privacy policies.
In an open Privacy letter, twenty three international privacy authorities have raised concerns about protecting personal data on mobile devices. Concerns have been raised about insufficient alerts involving the collection of consumer data on smart phones or mobile devices.
This letter has been relayed to key market players such as Google, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Blackberry and Amazon. Privacy advocates are calling on the app industry to make privacy integral to downloads with better built-in alert mechanisms.
Increasingly, consumers use these devices to trawl and access a range of mobile services, says this open letter. But they may be unaware about the broader use of their personal information to trawl through or access goods or services.
Better checks needed
Better checks and alerts are needed, note international privacy advocates. This enables consumers to make informed decisions about the use of their personal data. Among the checks, advocates want to make it mandatory for mobile app developers to post links to privacy policies as a prelude to collecting consumer information.
Steps are needed to ensure that citizens are comfortable with access to their personal information. Many consumers are often unaware about how their data is collected, used or shared by service providers or information brokers.
Without a proper alert or links to privacy policies, consumers may find it difficult to make informed choices or offer meaningful consent involving the use of their personal data.
Global sweep identifies gaps
The latest alert follows on from an annual Global Privacy Enforcement Network Privacy Sweep led by a coalition of organisations.This sweep galvanised 26 privacy enforcement authorities from around the world.
The sweep offered insights into the types of permissions sought by more than 1,200 of the world’s most popular apps and the extent to which consumers were informed about each app’s privacy practices.
“Developers and other app marketplace operators play a unique and integral role in users’ interactions with apps, made available through their various app stores and app marketplaces.” The app marketplace is an important consumer “landing spot” where people search for new apps, read reviews, and access technical information about a particular app before downloading this resource.
“Like any marketplace, there is an expectation that consumer protection issues will be addressed in a positive and privacy friendly manner.”
The latest letter has been signed by officials from Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, China, Holland, New Zealand, Norway and Korea, among other countries. The Australian representation is led by the federal privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.
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