Remember: Each app has its price

12/21/2015

A consumer campaign has been launched in the Netherlands, to raise awareness about the fact that when you install an app that seems to be for free – you pay by granting access to a large amount of your personal data.

The Dutch campaign is the result of a joint initiative of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the corporate sector, and the academic world to increase online security, especially among youth.

It seems to be a problem, not only in the Netherlands, that even if you pay little or nothing at all for the app itself, consumers rarely realize that their personal data can also be a currency. The campaign’s objective is to have consumers make conscious decisions rather than unquestioningly granting app providers access to their personal data.

Your data might be resold

Even if you have nothing to hide and do not worry about the data collection itself, few people worry about that app providers might resell their data. All of this data combined can be used to build profiles of consumers which is very attractive for e.g. marketers.

App providers are required to inform consumers about what they will do with their data, and must ask for the consumer’s consent for gaining access to their data – but that doesn’t help when so few actually read the terms and conditions before downloading an app. 

CHECKLIST: Before installing an app

  • Find out what information the app wants to gain access to. Be aware if the app provider wishes to share information with third parties.
  • Are there any alternatives? There might be apps that do cost money, but that do not require as much information from you.
  • Read the terms and conditions of the app, or at least the part about privacy. Also read the terms and conditions of the apps that you currently use. If an app accesses a lot of information, and you rarely use that app, you might consider deleting the app.
  • With some phones, you can change the settings of apps after installation. Check the user manual for your specific phone if this is possible.