Australia: Put Privacy First, OAIC tells Developers as Survey Finds 6 in 10 Australians Do Not Use Smartphone Apps Due to Privacy Concerns

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By Sunny Peter | October 1, 2013 2:12 PM EST

With 6 in 10 Australians choosing not to use a smartphone app because of privacy concerns, the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim says, mobile app developers need to put privacy first or they risk breaching the law.

Accordingly to the findings of the 2013 Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey conducted by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australians are jittery and concerned about the way personal information they provide to smartphone apps will be used. Full results of the survey will be released on Oct 9.

The release quoted, the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, saying the growing app industry presented both potential benefits to people but also serious risks to how personal information is handled.

"Mobile app developers operating in the Australian market need to be aware of how Australian privacy regulation applies, otherwise they risk breaching the law," Pilgrim said.

He recommended that app developers adopt a 'privacy by design' approach right from the beginning of an application's development to help make sure it is privacy-friendly.

"It is ultimately in an app developer's best interest to build strong privacy protections into their product. The mobile apps that take privacy seriously will be the ones that stand out from the crowd and gain user trust and loyalty," he said.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on Monday released a guide Mobile privacy: A better practice guide for mobile app developers, with the objective to help mobile device application (app) developers embed better privacy practices in their products and services. The guide will help developers that are operating in the Australian market to comply with Australian privacy law and best practice, a press release issued by the OAIC said.

The Guide recommends that app developers use short form privacy notices instead of lengthy privacy policies that are difficult to read on a small screen.

"People are confronted with privacy policies that are increasingly lengthy, complex and time-consuming to read. Trying to read one of these on a smartphone screen is even more challenging."

"People are increasingly expecting transparency about how their personal information is handled. It's important to get informed consent from people so they can decide whether or not to install an app. Informed consent requires that users be told about the privacy implications of an app in a way they can understand. App developers should make it easy by using things like a privacy dashboard and in-text notices where you tell users what will happen with their information in real time,' Pilgrim pointed out.

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