Valorem Consulting

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With the recent record-breaking Google settlement of $22.5 Million paid to the FTC, we are reminded that not only can one of the biggest internet sites violate our privacy, but so can some of our favorite desktop and mobile applications. While there are many  who say consumers should not complain about privacy policy violations because everything we type and post is already stored as “cookies”, others (like IdentityMine) view it differently.

Cookies help the marketing and advertising world, in that they can track what you search for and provide a more personalized web experience.  But they can and do pose a problem to those who are concerned about their privacy, particularly when it comes to web browsing. Last September it was revealed that Facebook was tracking users’ nearly every move… even after they had logged out of the social network. This is a real and growing problem as more and more people are becoming connected to the web and using mobile applications without fully understanding how their personal information and activities are being tracked.

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) that hosts is a Washington, DC-based “think tank” that seeks to advance responsible data practices. This is one of the best sources that provide developers with best practices in responsible information collection. The FPF also conducted a study that revealed some startling figures about the percentage of apps with in-app access to privacy policies.  Here are the results:

Free Apps Paid Apps
iOS – App Store 60% 44%
Android – Google Play 64% 24%
Kindle Fire – Kindle Appstore 20% 28%
All Platforms 48% 32%

What does it all mean?

The results show that free apps appear to be more transparent than paid apps, which is potentially due to the fact that free apps look for ways to increase their credibility – a transparent privacy policy is the best way to show your company’s awareness and sensitivity to consumer privacy concerns. What is surprising is that it is not common practice for all mobile operating systems to require applications to openly display a privacy policy.

The key question is what are the companies doing with your personal information when they don’t have a transparent privacy policy? Do you believe all applications, both paid and free, should be subject to a higher standard? Should there be regulations and legislation to help set some limits? Currently, U.S. lawmakers are calling for online and mobile privacy laws to create a standard and to protect user’s information. The Association for Competitive Technology (ATC) is calling for strong enforcement actions on companies that violate privacy policies. What do you think about information collection and how it should be regulated? 

2018 IdentityMine, Inc. Privacy Policy