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Cellphones Handhelds Privacy Software

Why Users Don't Trust Mobile Apps 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-of-the-convenience-none-of-the-security dept.
snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister writes of the growing unease among consumers around mobile data privacy, and how this distrust will impact mobile app development. 'When every week seems to bring another news story about a data breach resulting in the theft of customer data, customers are growing increasingly jealous of their privacy. Given the unique nature of the data to be found on smartphones, it's only natural that they have begun to view mobile apps with a skeptical eye. If you're developing apps that use customers' mobile data, you need to do more than recognize these realities. You need to develop a policy that places secure, ethical, and appropriate handling of user data at the core of your application development process.'"
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Why Users Don't Trust Mobile Apps

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  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Friday April 29, 2011 @10:43AM (#35975408)

    It's almost as though downloading random apps from the Internet to run on a device you use for personal information might be a bad idea.

  • Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday April 29, 2011 @10:45AM (#35975430)

    I see this as having a huge impact for the market for apps and what kinds of apps can be developed.

    The situation is developing where users don't want to give apps access to anything on the phone other than the data pipe, except for maybe a mapping application or something with an obvious need. This is really going to limit where apps can go.Because of the sins of Apple (and others), people don't trust the platform as much as they used to.

    Instead of being a device we voluntarily turned over information to in order to expand its role in our life, we are starting to see it as something that needs to be reigned in, controlled, watched like a hawk.

    Formerly people happily used Windows and IE to bring the internet into their lives. Now these are items you don't trust, you run several other programs on top to police them, etc.

    It's really a shame that this greed for personal information to sell has set back the role that palmtop tech may otherwise have headed toward in our lives.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday April 29, 2011 @10:56AM (#35975584)

    When every week seems to bring another news story about a data breach resulting in the theft of customer data, customers are growing increasingly jealous of their privacy

    Project much? As long as you aren't losing CC data, people are as unconcerned as they ever were. The rapid growth of Facebook is exhibit A, and enough to close that argument down.

    Not that app makers should not strive to protect a users privacy anyway, but it's a very small (yet vocal) minority of people that are attempting to paint this as a Big Issue.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday April 29, 2011 @11:02AM (#35975652)

    The thing is, they CAN'T be upfront about how free apps get converted into revenue. All these "markets" (facebook, etc.) revolve around harvesting consumer data.

    People don't want their information harvested, and will say "No" to that if confronted honestly.

    But that blows the trend we've seen in recent years where you can use software for free that we used to walk into a store and buy in a box for $50.

    Will we go back to the $50 model, or will people surrender privacy in exchange for "free"?

  • by traindirector (1001483) on Friday April 29, 2011 @11:07AM (#35975716)

    Android already has a great permissions system by which an application is granted permission to access functions of the phone and the Internet connection on a fairly granular level.

    However, even though they have already implemented this system that could allow the user to control what an application can do on her device, Google has chosen to restrict the end user from obtaining greater privacy and security by restricting an application's permissions. Through the user interface, one must either grant all permissions to an application or choose not to install the application--a single permissions cannot be removed.

    There is a small argument to be made that this makes things easier for developers, but how hard is it to gracefully handle not having certain permissions? For many features like GPS and Internet connectivity, Android could simply respond as if they are turned off if permission is denied. Some members of the Android development team have tried to spin the lack of user permission settings as a benefit to the user with the argument that "if users can disable permissions arbitrarily, then developers will have no incentive to minimize the amount of permissions they declare their applications need, and the average user will be less secure". This is the only somewhat rational explanation I have gleaned from there responses, and while there might be a small bit of merit to that and certain developers might really believe that, I think on the whole it is misguided.

    I believe Google's real goal is to make sure the user has no control over permissions, only a binary install / not install, because they're an advertising company with an interest in your data being sold. They continually ignore this permissions issue even though they have acknowledged it is among the top Android security complaints [google.com].

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 29, 2011 @11:13AM (#35975770)

    I take the third option.

    I don't pay for the linux kernel, so far Mr. Torvalds has not stolen nor leaked my Credit Card data. I buy Crossover from Codeweavers, the folks who make Wine just to support Wine. I use Wine instead though, and still Alexandre Julliard has not sold my private details to scammers and advertisers.

    I could go on, but you see where I am going. You are putting forward a false dichotomy. None of the above come in a $50 box and still my information is not sold to every scumbag with a marketing degree.

Business is a good game -- lots of competition and minimum of rules. You keep score with money. -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari

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