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App Security

Only 37% of people are comfortable sharing personal data with an app


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

February 24, 2013 | 3 min read

According to a new study into the perceptions of apps, only 37 per cent of people are comfortable sharing personal information such as address book information and location while over 70 per cent want to know what will happen with their data before they download an app.

The statistics come from MEF’s, the global community for mobile content and commerce, Global Privacy Report, which was carried out in partnership with mobile specialists On Device Research to try and understand global consumer understanding and perceptions of apps that gather and use personal data.

The ten country study of 9,500 respondents looked at four main areas; transparency, comfort, security and control.

In terms of transparency over 70 per cent of all consumers think it’s important to know what information is being gathered by an app (and 46 per cent think it’s very important). Furthermore, 71 per cent of all consumers think it’s important to know what information is being shared by an app, while 49 per cent consider it very important. This clearly shows that consumers want app providers to be transparent when it comes to the use of their personal information.

Looking at comfort in sharing information with mobile apps, 33 per cent of respondents were not at all comfortable sharing personal information, while 35 per cent are not comfortable sharing location information, suggesting consumers do not consider it especially sensitive. Additionally, more than half (52 per cent) are not at all comfortable storing their billing information within an app.

However, a survey into the perception of app security found that only 18 per cent of consumers lack confidence in the security of their personal information, showing that mobile users trust app providers to safely protect their personal information.

Meanwhile, a third of consumers (33 per cent) think they have complete control over how their personal information is used for advertising purposes. In reality it is unlikely consumers are able to control the way companies use their personal information, or if they can, it is likely few will understand how to exercise control. The report suggested that this means there is a gap between the power they think they have, and what they are actually able to do, paving the way for a possible ‘wake-up call’ that will dent trust further.

J.R. Smith, CEO, AVG Technologies, commented on the findings. He said: “For every one of us with a stake in the future of mobile apps, the MEF Global Privacy Report delivers a stark message that’s also filled with exciting opportunity.

“We need to deliver transparency, security, and control or we fail. And maybe, amid an unprecedented wealth of opportunity for innovation and market creation, fail even to survive.”

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