New video highlights issues with digital privacy and mobile apps

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A new video campaign launched by the Danish Consumer Council raises awareness of the type of personal information routinely gathered by smartphone apps.

The video uses hidden camera footage from a bakery shop to show how people react when they are asked the type of questions that many mobile apps also ask of us digitally.

Increasingly, users are allowing access to large amounts of personal data including phone contacts, text messages, photographs and locations via their favourite mobile apps.

Of course, each user has to give permission to the app to obtain this data, however, it is likely that many mobile users aren’t fully aware of just how much personal information they hand over to apps.

The If Your Shop Assistant was an App video should make users think twice about should before allowing apps to access their personal data and what impact it can have on their digital privacy.

Anja Philip, President of the Danish Consumer Council said: “Companies should not collect more information about consumers than is strictly necessary. Instead we would like to encourage them to start competing to provide consumers with proper digital privacy protection.”

If Your Shop Assistant was an App really hits home about how some of the most popular apps have access to a large amount of our personal data.

That said, even little known apps or apps which you would ordinarily think would not require access to personal information, still gather large amounts of personal data from users.

In October 2014, a number of flashlight apps, seemingly innocent and simple mobile apps which turn the flash on your smartphone camera into a flashlight, came under criticism when a report by mobile security experts SnoopWall, found that many of the flashlight apps were in fact collecting large amounts of personal data, which you would expect an app of this nature would not need in order to work correctly – after all, it’s just a flashlight, right?

Some of the permissions required to use the Super-Bright LED Flashlight, for example, requires users to grant the app access to such things as location, protected storage and full network access. It also asks to be able to modify and delete the content of your USB storage, take pictures and videos, modify system settings and receive data from the internet.

And it’s not just flashlight apps that have permissions you might not expect from an app of this kind.

The app for Dictionary.com asks to access the device location, all your photos and media files, and your device ID and call information. Why would a dictionary app need all that personal information?

dictionary.com

A report released by Global Privacy Enforcement Network in September 2014 found that out of more than 1,200 apps surveyed, 85% failed to properly disclose how personal information was being collected, used and shared.

Source: Consumers International

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1 Comment

  1. In the “physical” world I’m often asked for access to my credit card … and then I can say either yes or no. I can also do the same when an apps asks.