Privacy on Line? Good Luck Finding an App for That

Dear Mr. Dad: Like a lot of people, I sometimes let my 8-year old play with my smart phone while I’m driving. I’ve got things set up so he can’t download any apps by himself, but he’s talked me into a getting a bunch for him. It just hit me the other day that I don’t think I’ve ever seen any privacy policy notices with the apps. How do I know they aren’t spying on us?
A: Unfortunately, you don’t.  And given that 85% of Americans have a cell phone, (45% have smartphones) and 25% have tablets, your question is an excellent one. The good news is that we tend to take our privacy pretty seriously. A September, 2012 Pew report found that than half of app users “decided to not install a cell phone app when they discovered how much personal information they would need to share in order to use it,” And 30% of app users have “uninstalled an app that was already on their cell phone because they learned it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share.”

Privacy? Sorry, there’s no app for that

Think about all the apps you have on your phone, iPad, and anything else. And have you ever looked at—I mean really looked at—the privacy policy for those apps? Well, if you did, you’re certainly in the minority. I don’t think I’ve ever read the fine print (or any of the print at all) on most privacy policies. I just check the box and move on. After all, what harm could come of it?  [Read more...]