Apps Failing on Privacy Policies

28 per cent of the top 100 apps available from the App Store and Google Play still don’t have a privacy policy that informs consumers about their use of personal data, according to new research from MEF. The research follows MEF’s Global Privacy Report from earlier in 2013 which found that 70 per cent of consumers believe its important to know exactly what personal information is being collected and shared.

MEF’s latest analysis examined when and how a privacy policy was made available; the language used and its length. Only one in two apps offer a privacy policy prior to download in the app store. Only a third offer access to the policy within the app. And where there is a privacy policy in place, 69 per cent are written in long form (more than 750 words).

The average policy length was found to be 3,068 words, taking 12 minutes to read (an average ability adult reader can read 250 words per minute). The longest privacy policy was 8,124 words which would take 32 minutes to read. Only 8 per cent were written in less than 750 words. With users interacting with an app for an average of just two minutes per session, MEF believes it is unrealistic to expect consumers to engage with a privacy policy for so long.

Simon Bates, senior advisor on policy and initiatives, said: “Consumers must able to make an informed decision about whether or not to download an app. Once its on their device, they should be able to access the policy easily, from within the app. MEF’s global Privacy in Apps Initiative is supported by members from across the value chain to increase consumer trust in apps. It is essential developers are transparent. Privacy policies should be accessible, brief and easy to understand.”

The results of the study are available as an infographic here.