App cartel bands together promising privacy

It seems the biggest names in the mobile apps business want to protect us from ourselves and are willing to go the extra mile to do it for us, at gun point.

Hot on the tail of Google’s Privacy Policy change, Larry Page, Google CEO received a letter from US lawmakers – underwritten by 36 Attorney-Generals – expressing “serious concern” about Google’s ‘flat-rate’ privacy policy that, it is said, isn’t cautioning users well enough on how to opt out in the first place, reports Reuters.

This has also prompted another warning from US lawmakers about the privacy concerns related to how mobile apps are picking at the carcass of the consumer. According to Kamala D. Harris, California’s Attorney-General, developers aren’t being diligent enough in warning users of the ways their private data will be used.

Harris further pointed out that the vast majority of today’s most popular apps will not provide specific privacy notices on how your personal data is accessed. To make matters worse, some apps will tap directly into your address book, willingly or not, to access your contact’s details.

The stern heads-up from top US lawmakers has been underlined by an impending threat of litigation in case nothing is done to protect users’ private data. Harris drove the message home: “We can sue and we will sue.”

In a moment’s notice Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, HP and RIM have rallied a covenant and agreed on a course of action to placate any types of privacy concerns Federal and State government may have.

The acts of contrition and redemption performed by this Hexarchy of Masters of the Mobile Internet will go through an initial process of expressing even greater concern and chastising developers who fail to provide users with adequate notice. This is followed by a patronising pat on the back and kudos as the companies update their developer programmes with enough legal jargon to tank a Supreme Court Justice, in the hopes it will bar app developers from stealing your private data, and avoiding being sued in the process.

However, there is no law in the land that will force people to read EULA / privacy notices when they simply can’t bother to skim through the legal jargon. How many times have you shrugged, scrolled down and clicked ‘OK’, even though you know better?

Apple’s App Store and Google Android Market number almost 1,000,000 apps, of which 35 billion downloads have been made, added Harris. The figure is expected to reach 98 billion by 2015, generating a $25 billion market for mobile app revenues.

With WOA on the horizon and provided it is met with moderate success, this prediction will definitely short-change the reality of mobile App revenues.