Apple, Google to provide information regarding personal data collection by apps 

A letter by consumer protection authorities from 27 countries, including Israel, led to a change in policy under which suppliers of apps will be required to indicate in app stores which personal information will be kept, and what will be shared with third parties  

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Google and Apple announced that suppliers of apps will be required to indicate in their app stores what personal information will be kept by each app, and what personal information the company is allowed to share with others. It follows a request submitted by consumer protection authorities from the 27 member countries of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), of which Israel's Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority is a member. The clear and comprehensive supply of information to consumers will enable them to compare and select apps on the basis of how they use personal data. 

The organization and the member authorities reached the conclusion that the data provided to the consumer regarding privacy policy is not sufficient. The app stores of Apple and Google provide suppliers of apps with leeway to share personal data without giving consumers clear information on how the personal data is being used. According to the findings of the organization, in order to reach the data on this topic, the consumer has to scroll down more than one screen, and then click on a link to the policy on the app developer's site. Therefore, the 27 authorities joined together and demanded the technology giants to change the structure of their app stores so that app suppliers can supply consumers with vital information about the use of their data in a clear and comprehensive way on the app's main screen in the store.     

In light of the importance of this topic, and in order to increase the transparency for customers using apps and to provide them with detailed information regarding the collection and use of their data by the companies, the Global Privacy Enforcement Network supported this demand, and its support was also expressed in the letter by the authorities to the companies. Israel's Privacy Protection Authority is a member of this organization.   

According to the letter, research shows that consumers choose between apps based on the way in which their data is used, if they receive the appropriate data in advance. Transparency is a precondition for this choice. If consumers receive clear information about the privacy policy of every app at the appropriate time, it will enable them to make informed decisions regarding apps on this open basis.  

The joint call focused on the core issue for the protection of the consumer, namely informing the consumers at early stages before making a decision on purchasing/downloading an app regarding the essential details of the transaction, and in this case, information on collection and use of personal data. The basic demand for the protection of the consumer is that consumers be aware of the implications of their choices before they choose to download an app and use it. 

Attorney Michael Atlan, head of the Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority, said "I am pleased that the internet giants accepted the joint demand by us and 26 other corresponding authorities on displaying detailed information regarding the collection and use of personal data of consumers in their app stores. It is intended to prevent the misleading of consumers regarding the possibility that the various apps will collect and transfer personal data on consumers to other entities. The authority is also acting in the international arena to defend the consumers."  

Dr. Shlomit Wagman, acting head of the Privacy Protection Authority, said "This important and successful initiative of consumer protection authorities from around the world, which  was also supported by privacy protection authorities including the Israeli authority, indicates that cooperation with the regulators in various fields can cause the internet giants to reinforce the privacy of users, and demonstrates the fact that it is required in today's reality to deal with the challenges of the digital economy."   

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