Is Your Personal Information Safe with Mobile App Stores?

Privacy protection is vital for any Internet user. There is always the risk of your personal data being sold to third parties by a site’s owner, even on well-known, big-name app stores. Hence, it is essential to read and understand every store’s privacy rules. This article explains the level of user privacy each platform offers, and how well the user is informed about the way their information is shared.

 

Android

Google Play is the store for Android mobile apps. According to Google’s policy, they will share personal information of companies, organizations or individuals outside Google only when the concerned individual accepts it. They require opt-in consent for sharing any personal information with third parties. However, racial or ethnic origins, political or religious affiliations, medical information, and sexuality are referred as personal information, according to their user agreement. This does not include the customer’s full name, email, and address that Google Play will reveal to external organizations!

 

App buyers receive no notification when their data is shared. On the other hand, the notification of sharing permission is shown in detail during the installation of Android apps. This allows you to decide whether you are happy to install the app and allow your data to be shared. An important concern on Google Play is that quality control is poor compared to many other platforms, so malicious apps can be present in the store.

 

iOS

Purchasing apps from the iOS App Store means buying directly from Apple. It acts as a retailer for the apps, giving the appropriate revenue share to the developer after the purchase. The advantage of this setup is that Apple does not disclose any of your personal information to the developer. The only information shared is the number of downloads.

 

All iOS apps have a fine level of control for permissions. If any app requires personal data, that data is only shared with the consent of the user. The permissions given by the user during installation are saved in the app’s settings. Another advantage of iOS apps is that they allow you to change permissions for each app at a later date, based on requirement.

 

Windows

The Windows Phone Store’s privacy policy states that Microsoft will share your personal information to “comply with the law” and “protect the rights or property of Microsoft or customers”. It does not say anything about sharing customer’s personal information with sellers or other parties. However, as all the transactions on Windows Phone Store go through Microsoft, your personal details are safe.

In addition, Windows app policies clearly state that if personal data is accessed by an app, it must be after your consent, and the app must provide a method for you to opt out of sharing personal information. However, specific permissions are not allowed, so you may find yourself in an “all or nothing” situation.

 

 

BlackBerry 10

Blackberry’s privacy policy specifies that customer’s consent is required for Research In Motion eCommerce Inc. (RIME) to provide reasonably required payment information to the third party Merchant Of Records (MoRs), payment processors, or other entities for providing purchase and support services.

For financial transactions between vendors and customers, BlackBerry actually collaborates with two companies, Digital River and Bango, to act as merchants and be responsible for transaction processing, billing, and disbursement of revenue. While Digital River will provide reports of transactions to vendors, it does not share the personal information of end users. Unlike Android and Windows Phone 8, BB10 does have settings for permissions, so that you can change the specific permissions you give to apps, without having to uninstall the app completely.

Each company has its own definition of privacy and rules for saving private information. It is up to you to understand these privacy definitions and rules before using app stores, buying apps, and agreeing to licenses. Always read the small print!