Hundreds of different apps fail to provide consumers with even the most basic level of privacy protections, according to a new government investigation. The report, which doesn't name the apps, covers activity conducted over the course of a single week in May and comes amid heightened concern over personal security on mobile devices.
The Global Privacy Enforcement Network, a conglomeration of 26 privacy regulators across the world including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, announced this week that it examined 1,211 mobile apps from across the world and determined that the majority must do more to clarify what they do with consumer data. The survey found that 85 percent of the apps don’t clearly explain why they collect personal information, how they use it and who that information is shared with.
Thirty percent of the apps in question provided no privacy information of any kind, the report said, and 31 percent sought access to identifying information including contacts, call logs, calendar and location without explaining why that data was necessary. There were examples of positive disclosures, though, with Canadian privacy commission Daniel Therrien saying that regulators were impressed with how many apps simply decided to be transparent on their own volition.
“Both large and small app developers are embracing the potential to build user trust by providing clear, easy to read and timely explanations about what information they will collect and how they will use it,” he said in a statement. “Others are missing that opportunity by failing to provide even the most basic privacy information.”
This warning coincides with the recent report that researchers were able to trick users into downloading malicious software that ran on the background of an Android owner’s phone without his or her knowledge. In doing so, the malware was able to essentially peek into critical but not well-guarded apps, including ones for Chase Bank, Gmail and Amazon.