Apps & Privacy Policies: Protect your brand, Protect Personal Information

Apps & Privacy Policies: Protect your brand, Protect Personal Information

An essential read if you have, or are thinking of developing an App.

In the increasingly digital age, many retailers are turning to mobile applications (Apps) as a means to increase their omnichannel offering.  Whilst some retailers are required by law to have privacy policies, many have not turned their mind to the personal information collected through their Apps.

Various international privacy enforcement authorities, including the Privacy Commission of Australia, are calling on App market places (i.e. the Apple Store and Play Store) to require that Apps that collect personal information include mandatory privacy policies, or a link to one, prior to downloading.

The privacy enforcement authorities consider this to be an important privacy issue for individuals and have released an open letter (you can view it here) to the market places asking for assistance to maintain the integrity and privacy of personal information.

A review was undertaken of the types of permissions sought by more than 1,200 of the most popular apps and the level of information provided to their users about the App privacy practices.   It was determined that a number of Apps collected personal information but did not have a privacy policy or any other upfront information about the use of personal information.

Not having a privacy policy or information about the use of personal data takes away the user’s right to consent or awareness of how their personal information is going to be used once it is collected through the App.

It is easy for consumers to provide personal information, whether intentionally or not, via an App.  For example, many apps allow sign-in through Facebook, which can provide the App developer with a wealth of personal information.

To maintain the integrity of your business and to ensure that consumers do not feel ‘duped’, it’s important to be up front with App users about a developer’s intention to using their personal information.   Being clear about how a developer will be using personal information is important for brand integrity – if an App user is suddenly signed up to a number of mailing lists or sent push notifications for the latest swimwear sale, it can be considered offensive if they have not provided some form of consent.

When developing a privacy policy for your App there are a number of factors you need to consider:

  1. Will the policy be legible on a phone screen?
  2. Does the policy specify what information the App will be collecting?
  3. Does the policy state what the personal information will be used for?
  4. How will the personal information be stored?
  5. Is the developer covered by the National Privacy Principles?

Gladwin legal has assisted App developers and retailers to draft and publish privacy policies that address all the relevant legal requirements whilst remaining commercial and flexible.