Work commenced last year, after a study conducted by various consumer authorities concluded that consumers are not provided with adequate information on how apps gather and use personal data. Therefore, the consumer authorities of 27 countries called on Apple and Google to make adjustments to their app stores, so that consumers can have access to better information about their personal data.
– If the consumers have access to clear information about how various apps use their personal data before download or purchase, they will be able to make informed choices based on the amount of data that is collected or shared, Deputy Director General of the Norwegian Consumer authority, Bente Øverli says.
Lack of information affects consumers’ freedom of choice
In the digital economy, many apps and services are financed by the commercial use of personal data. The lack of information on the collection and use of data about the consumer makes it difficult for the consumers to understand which apps do not cost money, but where the business model is fully or partially based on monetizing the consumers’ data. Transparency regarding data collection is a necessary condition for consumers to make informed choices before starting to use a given app.
International joint action
The working group, including 27 countries, all members of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), has been led by Dutch and British consumer authorities, together with the Norwegian Consumer authority.
The working group has met separately with Apple and Google to discuss changes to their app stores. The desired changes meant that the app providers shall inform the consumers about how apps collect and use personal data. This means consumers can take privacy into account when choosing between various apps, where this information is provided. One of the suggestions to the app store owners, was that the app stores should have a dedicated section on the product page of the individual app where clear and necessary information could be presented, along with illustrating icons. In this way, the consumers could easily compare various apps.
Apple has made changes in App Store
Apple has made changes in their latest version of iOS, making it easier for the consumers to compare apps before they are downloaded, by providing information about the collection and use of data on the product page of the individual app. This is important for the consumers to be able to make informed choices regarding the collection and sharing of personal data.
– By making these choices, Apple has taken important steps in the right direction, making it easier for the consumers to compare various apps. Having adequate information about the use of personal data before deciding whether to download or buy an app is crucial for the consumers, Øverli says.
Google has not made adjustments as of yet.