As recent data showed there are raising concerns regarding users’ data privacy on smartphones today. As a result, U.S. authorities have been pushing companies in the technology business to come up with a solution that will protect users’ personal information online. But, as of Wednesday, the industry’s top players, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM and HP decided to sign a smartphone privacy agreement.
The news regarding the smartphone privacy agreement came from California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, who has been directly involved in the administration’s efforts to get technology companies to improve data protection. Although the agreement doesn’t exactly change much, it is a big first step in the field.
Wednesday’s agreement refers to users that download applications and a modality to help protect their private data. Basically Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Research in Motion and Hewlett Packard, to name the biggest players, agreed to inform the users in what way will their private data be used before downloading an app.
California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said: “Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is”. She pointed out that at the moment the data shows that 22 of the 30 most downloaded apps don’t present the user with their privacy notice. And since by 2015 the industry expects users to download about 98 billion mobile applications, the issue at hand is quite important.
“Most mobile apps make no effort to inform users about how personal information is used. The consumer should be informed of what they are giving up”, added the Attorney General.
Obviously a lot of voices are going to argue that the agreement is just the administration’s way to shift the focus from its promise to deliver a “privacy bill of rights”. Advocacy groups voiced their protest as the administration isn’t delivering results as fast as they should. Justin Brookman, privacy director at the Center for Democracy & Technology, argued earlier this year regarding the authorities’ privacy initiatives:
“That sounds great but you should really have a law to get them to do it. It remains to be seen how effective these self-regulatory approaches are, absent a stick to get everyone into the room”.