back to article Apple, Google, RIM plaster privacy warnings on prying apps

Mobile software that meddles with your sensitive info must have privacy polices and must display them clearly, California's Attorney General Kamala Harris declared yesterday in a statement agreed by all major app sellers. Under the new rule, anyone downloading a program from Apple, Android, RIM, Windows, HP or Amazon stores …


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  1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    warnings not the best solution?

    Maybe not, but at least a start has been made on accountability. From the other stories recently about this group or that group not properly vetting apps it is clear that there is no consistency on where the buck stops when sub-optimal processes are discovered. By requiring a provacy warning then you have a launchpad to decide whether any problems are accident or design and the AppStores can sit back a little after defining minimum standards for the warning.

    Also gives developers a chance to experiment with 'Soul-catcher' clauses as see who notices :)

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: warnings not the best solution?

      Typical, didn't see the typo when I previewed.....obviously the 'as' in the last sentence should be 'and'

      1. DragonLord


        what about provacy = privacy?

        1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Optional

          mutter mutter millennium hand and shrimp

  2. Armando 123


    I would comment on this but I haven't filled in the 38 ten-page forms that have to be hand-printed in blue or black ink and faxed to an overseas number that charges me $3.56 per page to my phone and then must be officially ignored thrice before not being processed.

    Mine's the one with the passport so I can go to a country where there is less paperwork. Like Somalia or China.

  3. Eguro

    Here's an idea

    The stores could have little icons besides the app names, which light up when appropriate.

    One icon could mean that the app will access contacts, another GPS, etc. - that way you'll at least have cursory information about privacy, without having to read XX pages of legalese

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not a solution

      You'd want a map app to show your location via GPS, but you wouldn't want it to log and send all your locations to the developer's server.

      A privacy policy seems the only way to describe such interactions.

      1. Eguro

        Re: Not a solution

        Well obviously you'd want a map app to do that, which is why the light would be lit.

        When wishing to download a map app you'd think to yourself:

        "Well the GPS icon is lit, good. But why on Earth does it want access to my contacts?"

        "Why on Earth does [APP Name Here] want access to my contacts, my ID, my location, etc."

        1. MrWibble

          Re: Re: Not a solution

          So just like Android does. And most people ignore.

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Re: Not a solution

          Don't need silly icons and warnings. We need a configurable app permissions system where the app can request access to contacts and you can tap "NO!" and to discover known accounts to which you can reply "STFUAD!" and to burp it all on to full internet access with saying "Not bloody likely, and AdMod can kiss my ... too!".

          IF THE USER IS EMPOWERED TO SAY "NO", then privacy policies and pretty icons are much less relevant, and the end result will be much more useful than trust. If trust was so good, the app wouldn't be looking at this sensitive stuff in the first place.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The problem of incomprehensible policies can be handled simply by stating that an app which displays a privacy policy which the average user can't understand or which doesn't state the essentials up-front (eg refers to Ts&Cs elsewhere) is by definition a breach of the privacy regulations.

  5. ratfox

    Another idea

    Maybe, like on computers, we could have the option to forbid apps from accessing the internet. Just saying. Access to private information becomes much less of a problem when it cannot be sent anywhere anyway.

  6. Chad H.


    What happens when every juristiction starts passing incompatible requirements....

  7. jai

    what's covered?

    from the tone of this article and the title, i'm under the impression that this is specifically targeting apps that gather personal data without it being obvious to the user?

    does it include the scenario where the user types in the information? does having the user link something like their Facebook id to the app fall under this policy? or is that okay because it specifically requires the user to input data so they are clearly aware on whats happening?

    just seems to be this policy is probably a good thing, but it's a bit vague on where it applies - or perhaps i missed that paragraph in the statement...

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