Article 29, a privacy watchdog group in the EU made up of EU data and privacy protection authorities, has issued new recommendations to anything and everything related to app distribution, which includes the App Store, Play Store, Amazon App Store, and any other software deploying marketplace.

The recommendations that these stores will now have to follow require the default settings of applications to be not to track any information until the user says otherwise. Here is an excerpt:

On average, a smart phone user downloads 37 apps. These apps are able to collect large quantities of personal data from the device, for example by having access to the photo album or using location data. “This often happens without the free and informed consent of users, resulting in a breach of European data protection law”,according to the Chairman of the Article 29 Working Party Jacob Kohnstamm.

Privacy risks mobile apps

Smart phones and tablets contain large quantities of intimate personal data from and about their users, such as contact details, locational information, banking details, photos and videos. In addition, these devices can record, or capture in real-time, a range of data types from a multitude of sensors including microphones, compasses or other devices used to track a user’s movement. Although app developers want to provide new and innovative services, the apps may have significant risks to the private life and reputation of users of smart devices if they do not comply with EU data protection law. Individuals must be in control of their own personal data. Therefore apps must provide sufficient information about what data they are processing before it takes place in order to obtain meaningful consent.Poor security is another data protection risk, which could lead to unauthorised processing of personal data through the trend of data maximisation and the elasticity of purposes for which personal data is being collected, such as for ‘market research’. This increases the possibility of a data breach.

Apple already has many of these implemented into iOS, so it shouldn’t have much to do. I’m not sure about the rest however. This is good though, as many are starting to take privacy of users more seriously, and in an age of every increasing connectivity, more privacy is never a bad thing.

What do you think? Like to see the EU doing things to protect privacy? Let us know in the comments

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