ICO: Apps Must Respect User Privacy

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The explosion of the little software programs we use on our smartphones and tablets, programs which have universally come to be known as “apps” in the last several years, are causing a major problem for the majority who use them.

And it’s a problem most everyday users won’t even know involves them.

That problem is privacy invasion — and the Information Commissioner’s Office, the body responsible for providing independent advice and guidance about data protection and freedom of information, now says that it is looking to advise developers on the practices that should be put in place to avoid misusing user data, which is, (most often times, involuntarily), collected via their mobile apps.

Citing that its independent study of the state of the mobile app space, and the related privacy issues that now go along with it, saw “nearly half of all app users” decide not to download an app because of “concerns over privacy,” the office is this week releasing new guidance on the subject which, it hopes, will not only dispell the myth that the collection of this data is ‘for the greater good,’ but that better advises developers – if they choose they wish to partake in the collection of this data – to ensure that “they do not misuse [that] data.”

More than 320 million apps were downloaded on the busiest day of last year, Christmas Day, and that number is expected to increase this year.

- BBC News

“The app industry is one of the fastest growing in the UK, but our survey shows almost half of people have rejected an app due to privacy concerns,” Simon Rice, Principal Policy Adviser for Technology at the ICO said on the matter. As the holiday period approaches, Rice is warning that developers should “[make] sure their apps look after personal information correctly.”


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