Mobile Apps – a threat to our digital privacy

3 Aug

Some would say that mobile apps pose a serious threat to our digital privacy. And surely anything that represents a threat should be quickly and effectively eradicated, especially when it comes to our privacy?

However, the suggestion of a world without Apps is sure to raise more than a few gasps. These nifty bite-sized pieces of software are easily downloaded onto our smartphones at the tap of a finger and quicker than you could make a cup of tea. And more often than not, downloaded without stopping to consider if the app could be a threat to personal information.

Responsible App Development

App developers following a ‘privacy by design approach should be aware of the laws that now govern and demand that a users’ data be protected irrespective of where they live on the globe. The complexities of being compliant with data protection laws in multiple countries can cause many a headache for the app developer though. The real concern is that developers often lack the technical understanding or interest to review privacy terms, and don’t actually speak the same ‘legalese’.

However, headaches aside, the responsibility of protecting the end users’ privacy is down to the developer from the moment they start to create the App.

While most apps have embedded technology that allows for the sharing of data with third-party platforms, privacy laws don’t do a particularly thorough job of ensuring that third parties abide by the compliance rules. Often, third parties have terms and conditions that push the responsibility of considering the user’s privacy upfront and onto the shoulders of the App developer.

This leaves App users unprotected, with the App developer legally liable for any misuse of data as determined by the Protection of Personal Information Act and the GDPR. Furthermore, App developers will ordinarily decide why and how the App collects data.

These protection acts make the App developer, the ‘data controller’ and thus responsible for the data’s use where ever it may end up.

If this information leaves you feeling vulnerable, the truth is you are and need to be implementing steps to safeguard yourself.

How an App Developer Needs to Safeguard Themselves

One of the seven foundational principles of the ‘Privacy by Design Approach’ is ‘Visibility and Transparency.’ By following this principle, App developers should be putting best practices into action to ensure they don’t face unforeseen legal liability.

A privacy by design approach for developers should follow the following principles:

  • Monitor developer platforms for security and privacy
  • Notify users of any data transfers to third parties
  • Provide easy to use privacy controls
  • Ensure that all privacy policies and procedures are documented, communicated, and assigned

In addition, app developers should always check the contract and third-party code carefully, ensuring that they are not saddled with all the responsibility.

Concerned about your Digital Privacy?

A few simple behavioural changes will ensure that you maintain security on your digital devices. Here’s our quick takeaway on how to protect your information online.

  1. Secure your accounts by using a password manager to save your passwords and generate different, complex passwords for all your accounts. Once setup you will end up with new passwords for all of your accounts.
  2. Protect your web browsing with a browser extension to block ads and the data that they collect.
  3. Use antivirus software to protect yourself from viruses and malicious software which can wreak havoc to your business and personal information.

Lastly, be sure to do regular online cloud backups for off-site data protection. Get in touch with us today for your free 30 day trial.


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