Mobile Apps and privacy

September 7, 2014 |

The Privacy Commissioner has issued a guide on Mobile Apps (found here) and a checklist (found here).   It is good, as far as it goes.  Now the question is enforcement.  Mobile Apps are notorious for the poor privacy protections, both in terms of infrastructure and policy framework.  The other issue is coverage. Many app developers and not a few businesses who use their products are not covered by the Privacy Act as they don’t have a turnover of $3 million.

In a related development Geekwire reports on an app that actually enhances privacy, in  App of the Week: AVGPrivacyFix manages your privacy across social networks.  Another example of technology stepping in and working a fix where the law doesn’t offer enough protection, both in terms of legislation and enforcement.  It provides:

How exposed are you online? Now that having multiple social media accounts is commonplace and with privacy settings constantly changing, it’s not easy to keep tabs on who can see your personal information.

That’s where the app AVGPrivacyFix comes in. This app tells users how their personal information is exposed on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Linkedin and other social accounts, and helps them strengthen their privacy by pinpointing the exact settings that need attention.

Once users input their social network login information, their account settings instantly appear on the app’s dashboard. By scrolling through the main page, users get an organized view of their privacy settings for every account, all in one place. These include settings to protect your search history, adjust app access and more.  Each setting is marked with a “setting needs attention,” “most private setting,” or “less privacy” symbol.

When a setting needs attention, users click on it and are directed to a setting-specific page that gives detailed information about the setting and the option to change it on the spot and swipe to the next setting. As users review their privacy settings, the dashboard shows their progress.

AVGPrivacyFix also estimates how much your accounts are worth based your characteristics. With my location, gender, an average of 313 Facebook likes per month, 7 photos posted per month, and 1,500 friends, the app estimates that Facebook could earn $31.35 every year from my account.

It’s an educational tool that guides you to make your own decisions. If you’re looking for an “apply to all” approach when it comes to your privacy settings, this is not the app for you

Overall, AVGPrivacyFix is a well-executed app that makes managing your online privacy as straightforward as it should be. While it still requires some work by users, the app guided and educated me enough to the point where I felt confident making my own decisions about specific privacy settings.

The biggest bonus: it saved me a lot of time. Using the app spared me from going into each of my accounts and checking all of my settings, including those that were already solid.

AVGPrivacyFix is available for free at the App Store and Google Play.

One Response to “Mobile Apps and privacy”

  1. Mobile Apps and privacy | Australian Law Blogs

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