With the growing number of apps in the Apple Store and Android market, the number of choices consumers now have is staggering. While some mobile app developers continue to charge for downloading their apps, many developers and publishers are increasingly making their apps available for free. These apps attempt to generate revenue streams through in-app advertising targeted to mobile consumers through the app data collected. Two recent reports regarding the practice of data collection and advertising have shown that there are divergent trends in the world of mobile app privacy policies.
On the one hand, the Future of Privacy Forum group reported on best practices in mobile app privacy, showing that many app developers are taking steps towards disclosing full privacy policies to their customers. Others still don’t perform this practice, including notable apps like Fruit Ninja and Camera Plus.
On the other hand, a report released by Lookout Security, a consumer privacy firm, found a set of looser and privacy invading practices being employed by many other mobile app developers. They found that some apps even ventured outside of the traditional app space to push advertisements or shortcuts onto the mobile phone in unexpected locations. The report urged mobile app developers to provide better privacy policies and opt-out features, especially when the app attempts to access data and controls outside of the basic app space.
As the mobile app marketplace continues to grow, standards will need to be developed to ensure consumer privacy and safety are properly guarded. The government has already stepped in on this front, with the Commerce Department recently meeting to discuss consumer privacy bill of rights, including mobile app privacy policies. The changes that come from these meeting will have heavy implications for all mobile app developers across all mobile app platforms for years to come.