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Is it important to read the privacy policy before downloading an app?


Read the privacy policy before downloading an app


We’ve all seen boxes like these and clicked on the button without even bothering to read the privacy policy.

You’re probably thinking, “Who reads them anyway?” And even when you do, it does not make much sense to you.

Don’t sweat it. You are not alone.

According to a study carried out by Deloitte in 2017, 91% of consumers accept legal terms and conditions without reading them. “When faced with no choice, users are willing to accept potential consequences in exchange for access.”

So what does this all mean?

It can’t be that bad when we agree to share our information. Right?

Well, let’s have a closer look.

With the Facebook scandal making headlines lately, there are a lot of questions arising about privacy. 87 million Facebook users were influenced. Data was inappropriately obtained through this platform’s apps.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook collected intensely personal information from many popular smartphone apps just seconds after users entered them. Surprisingly, this occurs even if the individual has no connection to the social media platform. But more importantly, these apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure.

87 million Facebook users were influenced


And it’s not the first time that a well-known company is coming into the spotlight because of this. Apple recently came under the rap for iPhone apps misusing data from its users.

It may make sense to reprimand companies that use personal data without a person’s consent. But what can be said about those that offer consumers the choice of consenting to their policies beforehand?

Who’s at fault then?

In such cases, it’s not that the consumers were not informed. It’s quite the opposite. In fact, users have access to the information, but they do not take the time to read and evaluate it.

Many times, consumers want to avoid the hassle altogether. In essence, it is their laziness that comes into play. The users are not as diligent as they should be in aligning data management with the privacy policy.

More importantly, users tend to overlook certain risks just to be on the same page with their friends. This is more common on social media platforms, as exhibited quite vividly in the example mentioned above. It appears that consumers will overlook these blunders and continue to stick with the brand.

There’s another side to the story

When consumers do take the initiative to read the policy upfront, they sometimes come up against a roadblock. Many companies provide vague statements about their privacy policies because they cover multiple services. As a result, it is hard to comprehend what exactly is being said and to what extent personal data will be harvested.

For example, Google’s privacy policy clearly states that it collects information about the services that you use and how you use them. It lists examples of the information that it can gather, but precisely what and how remains unclear.

On the other hand, few privacy policies provide consumers with a choice. They are told that if they do not tick the “I Agree” box, they will not be able to utilize the service at all.

Some companies change their privacy policies without prior notice. Consumers are asked to acknowledge and accept the updated policy or else their account will be terminated, or worse, their gadgets will not function properly.

Ideally, it’s the consumer’s responsibility to make informed choices before agreeing to anything when downloading an app. Whether you decide to download a mobile app for ecommerce transactions like Paytm or a socializing app like AirG, remember to read the fine print.

Why is it important to read the privacy policy?

Data privacy is more important than ever. It’s no longer safe to download any app that you think is interesting.

Analysts from the University of Sydney and CSIRO’s Data61 discovered 2040 malware-laden counterfeit apps in Google Play alone. But more interestingly, numerous fake apps were malware-free but were requesting “dangerous” data access permissions.

When you sign up for a service, you often enter vital details such as your name and email address. That means that you are essentially handing over personal information that could make you a prime target for ads, data mining, censorship, and other invasive practices.

Consider what happens when you install an app or an app update. A pop-up appears, listing all the permissions it requires. Common ones include access to the camera, media files, GPS, etc. Most permissions are necessary to enhance the user’s mobile experience. So it makes sense that a picture-editing app requires access to your phone camera and media files. But a gaming app seeking access to your text messages or contacts should raise a red flag.

Inadvertently, not reading the privacy policy exposes your data and sensitive information to security risks. The key is to identify what is vital for the app to perform. Here are some hidden threats that you could encounter.

Why is it important to read the privacy policy


The mission is to build user trust and confidence on the internet. A privacy policy aims at doing just that. It’s a statement that declares a company’s policy on collecting and releasing information about a user. It should say what specific information is collected, and whether it’s kept confidential, shared, or sold to third-party sites without your knowledge.

What you need to know before you download the app

1. Shop wisely

Acquire apps from trustworthy sites. You can take help from AirG reviews and other review tools to ensure security of apps. Though malware is on the rise, you can also reduce the risk by downloading apps from your OS app store.

2. Do the research

Do some background check on the developers of the app before thinking about downloading, especially if it’s a new name in the market. You need to check their credibility. Based on that, make your decision on whether they can be trusted or not.

3. Be extra cautious

Don’t use your business or social media account to sign into a new app. You don’t know the potential dangers yet so keep sensitive data distant.

4. Take a stand

Don’t download just any app. If it’s asking permission to access unnecessary data, you need to find another one that’s not as intrusive. At the top of the list, avoid those that want access to your emails or listen in via mic.

5. Know your rights

Read privacy policies. They explain your legal recourse if data is misused. You may need to do some digging, so visit the app store from your computer and find their policy.

Final thoughts

Developers often use SDKs (software development kits) to collect data about users. The data acquired from mobile apps is valuable for advertising buyers. With insights into a person’s behavior, companies can target users better, claiming a stronger return on their investment.

Mobile privacy is in the infancy stages and is just starting to get public, corporate, and government attention. However, it’s the users that must decide how much data should be accessible. So, it’s imperative to gain a proper understanding of what privacy policy entails for the app you intend to use. Therefore, you need to carefully read all the policies before making the final decision of downloading the app. Forewarned is forearmed.

Author’s Bio:

Ashley Rosa - freelance writer and blogger

About Ashley Rosa:

Ashley Rosa is a freelance writer and blogger. As writing is her passion that why she loves to write articles related to the latest trends in technology and sometimes on health-tech as well.  She is crazy about chocolates. You can find her at twitter: @ashrosa2.


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