Mobile Phones

EFF suggests new Privacy Bill of Rights for Mobile Users

EFF LogoThe mobile application world is vast, powerful, and is becoming a more influential technology as each year passes. Unfortunately mobile apps are still relatively new but they have swiftly surpassed all expectations leaving people to scramble in an attempt to set up proper privacy protection rights. Since smartphones and other mobile devices are constantly connected to the internet and are constantly capable of relaying incredibly sensitive user data, it is crucial that carriers, developers, and mobile device manufacturers be held to a strict set of privacy laws that are not quite yet in place.

Despite the fact that there is no set bill of rights for privacy laws that mobile apps and devices should adhere to, there is a basic framework that exists. Below is a basic guide on how consumer privacy should be handled. Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) guide is based off of documents such as “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World”, and the “Bill of Privacy Rights for Social Network Users”.

Privacy Bill of Rights for Mobile Users suggested by EFF:

  1. Data Control – Since it is the user’s sensitive data that is being exploited it should be the sole right of the user to be able to monitor and control what personal data the apps collect and determine how they should use it. Being able to turn on and off these features would be a huge step in the right direction.
  2. Specific Data Collection – here lately there have been numerous stories on apps and devices collecting more information than needed including address books, photos, location, and more. Should an app need to collect data they should only collect what they need and nothing more.
  3. Knowledge – A big cause of fear and distrust of mobile apps is the fact that users don’t know what the apps are doing and what information they are collecting. If an app is collecting data it should be required to inform the user what they are collecting and how they are using it.
  4. Release of Data – often times apps will release data collected by a user to third parties and this is unacceptable. Apps should be required to obtain consent from the user before giving out any information.
  5. Safety – Personal data is very important to users and the safety of that data when it is collected is essential. Since most data collected is stored it should be encrypted at all possible times.
  6. Responsibility – Should a developer or manufacturer infringe upon a user’s privacy rights it is the right of the user to demand accountability.

The six guidelines listed above are a set of standards that all participants in the mobile world should work hard to meet. Developers, manufacturers, networks, and all others have a responsibility to the consumer to not only gain their trust but to retain that trust through fair privacy practices. The mobile app world has developed immensely and will continue to develop year after year however users deserve to have specific privacy standards met. It is well past time these standards are followed.

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