85pc of apps unclear on how gathered data is used, says report

11 Sep 2014

A survey commissioned by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) has found that 85pc of apps analysed were found to be vague in explaining how they use customers’ data.

The 1,211 apps involved in the survey – 20 of which originated in Ireland – covered free and paid-for apps across both Android and iOS.

The survey has been published by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC).

The 26 different sweeps teams that have been gathering the information on what data was being used for was looking to see whether the permissions requested during the app installation process was more than would be expected of the functionality of the app.

The teams also examined how the gathering of data was explained to the downloader of the app in the initial process. Thirteen of the 20 Irish apps involved in the survey were found to have “exceeded that which the sweeper would expect based on the app’s functionality after reviewing the app”.

In its report, the DPC has said the most worrying result from the survey from an Irish perspective is that of the apps the Irish sweep team examined, 55pc were issued a score of just two (out of 10) for how well they explained their privacy terms and conditions.

Two apps relating to personal finance that the Irish team found to have scored highly in relation to data protection of its customers were Ulster Bank and Tralee Credit Union.

Yet, similar personal finance apps were found to be seriously lacking in informing their customers of their status of protection, with 15pc providing inadequate information while a further 5pc provided none whatsoever.

Mobile data image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic