Research by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) has shown that the majority of popular apps on iOS and Android are failing at user privacy after monitoring 1,211 apps in total. The GPEN have since argued that users deserve to be in control of the data being taken regardless of the app, not being left in the dark when it comes to the usage of their privacy, especially when there is clear room for improvement.
The UK’s top 50 apps were examined, as well as research also being carried out in 39 other countries. Their findings were bot shocking yet expected.
- 85% of apps did not clearly explain when data is being collected, what is being collected specifically and how it was being used
- 59% left users struggling to find the basic privacy details
- 1 in 3 apps requested excessive permissions in regards to accessing personal information
- 43% failed to make privacy conditions accessible on small screen devices, either making the conditions too small to read or hiding the details in lengthy multi-page policies
The GPEN have since decided to publish a document which helps guide and explain step by step what users can do to protect their details when using mobile apps. The issues aren’t so much the apps themselves, but the ads that are displayed upon them. Third party ads are even more so concerning due to data leaks usually being from the ads opposed to the app itself, which is pretty worrying when app developers don’t usually understand the code for adverts, seeing them purely as a source of money therefore not asking many questions.
On a positive note, some apps were complimented on their privacy, noting that some used notifications in order to request and alert users of when their details are being used, for example with the use of location services.