User control and privacy in the global App market

Dec 11 2018

It’s Saturday night and you’re just getting home after a great night out. To get your keys you turn on your Apple flash light. Nothing could be simpler, after all you're just opening your front door, right?

Wrong! Your movements can be followed through tracking tools but do the app developers really need to track your location? Absolutely not. This is just one of many examples of design by deception as Kai Rannenberg, Chair of Mobile Business and Multilateral Security at Goethe University, pointed out at ICT2018.

In a nutshell, today’s app markets are not informing us of what they track or when. Users have no way to check this behaviour. To turn things around, we need improvements on several levels:

1. Trustworthy hardware.
2. Robust mobile operating systems.
3. Privacy-friendly apps giving users control.
4. Better app markets informing users better about the apps and the consequences of using them.
5. Neutral evaluation of relevant system properties so the average person can understand and make informed choices.

We need to create a world where every citizen can understand privacy settings and their implications. A "trustworthy communicator", including an app market that informs the citizen-consumer is informed about data flows and security levels.

Consent forms are very long lists and hardly anybody reads the terms and conditions. These conditions are expected to change for apps with the GDPR and ePrivacy laws in Europe, but we need much more debate on how technologies are developed and related business cases.

Do you have other examples of "deception by design"? How concerned are you about data flows and user control?

Join the debate by adding your comments below.

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