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Most Apps Still Gobbling Up User Data
By: Jessica Cherok
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Surprise, surprise — apps are failing at protecting your privacy. According to a new report, apps are still collecting huge amounts of personal data.

The Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) surveyed over 1,200 apps, finding that the large majority of them were not being clear or detailed in telling users what information was being collected. Nearly 85% of these apps did not have sufficient notifications as part of their Terms of Service.

More often than not, users have no idea what information is being collected, or why. It’s this lack of consent and understanding that has had many privacy advocates concerned. Privacy International, a privacy advocacy group, called the practice “unacceptable.” The group went on to say, “Sadly, this type of smash and grab is now becoming an industry standard, where apps are taking as much information as possible and hoping users don’t notice.”

The report found:
  • 85% of the apps surveyed failed to clearly explain how they were collecting, using, and disclosing personal information.
  • More than half (59%) of the apps left users struggling to find basic privacy information.
  • Almost 1 in 3 apps appeared to request an excessive number of permissions to access additional personal information.
  • 43% of the apps failed to tailor privacy communications to the small screen, either by providing information in too small a print, or by hiding the information in lengthy privacy policies that required scrolling or clicking through multiple pages.
There has been an increased push in the last several years to regulate app data collection, but nothing has been officially finalized.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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