Eric Rosenblum, COO of Drawbridge, Joins TRUSTe at the 2013 “Powering Trust” Roadshow to Encourage Privacy Commitments Across Devices

Daryl McNutt, VP Marketing Drawbridge

In today’s mobile-focused world, a user’s privacy is not only the most important, but also the hardest thing for companies to promise. Many ad exchanges, big-name brands, and app developers aren’t yet sure how to effectively target users on mobile without accessing personally identifiable information (PII). However, for some companies, the pledge to protect consumer privacy comes first and foremost when introducing cross-device technology – and Drawbridge is one of those companies.


TRUSTe Study Reveals Smartphone Users More Concerned About Mobile Privacy Than Brand or Screen Size

Dave Deasy – VP Marketing | TRUSTe

The smartphone and apps markets experienced explosive growth last year, to the extent that there are now more smartphones on the planet than people – 217 million were purchased worldwide in the final quarter of 2012 alone.

But the complexity of the current mobile ecosystem raises new consumer privacy concerns.  Mobile device users are sharing information about their daily lives with a number of third parties – sometimes willingly, sometimes not.

While regulators in the US and Europe have moved to keep up with these issues and address consumer concerns, the question is how much users understand about who can access their information and how those third parties are using it.  What kind of personal information do they feel comfortable sharing and how do they control their privacy?

The answer to these questions – and many more – are revealed in the latest TRUSTe 2013 Consumer Data Privacy Study: Mobile Edition, which offers a detailed insight into current consumer opinion, business implications and market trends.  Conducted by Harris Interactive among smartphone users in the US and UK between June 12 and June 19 2013, the survey is part of an established research series and, now in its third year, a long-term commitment to market education by TRUSTe.

UK Findings

UK Findings

US Findings

US Findings

The findings provide a valuable barometer on current consumer perceptions and mobile privacy trends by examining issues such as data collection, geo-location tracking, mobile advertising and privacy management responsibility.

And, although the research findings in the US and UK were similar in many instances, they also reveal a number of significant differences of opinion.

Mobile Privacy Concern

Privacy is, and remains, a concern among smartphone users on both sides of the Atlantic.

Despite the considerable investment in product and brand development made by mobile phone companies and app developers, smartphone users are more concerned about their privacy than the brand, camera, weight or screen size.  For 22% of US and 20% of UK users privacy is their greatest concern when using mobile apps, second only to battery life, with 78% in the US and 76% in Great Britain refusing to download an app they don’t trust.

Smartphone users in the US and the UK are equally concerned about privacy issues when banking online – in the US 63% worry frequently or always and in the UK the figure is 54%.

Reluctance to Share Personal Information

The study reveals 43% of smartphone users in the US and 47% in the UK are not prepared to share any information about themselves with a company in exchange for a free or lower cost mobile app.

Unlike in the US, where 38% (up from 31% in 2012) are willing to share at least some information, in the UK the trend is reversed with the figure at 35% (down from 40% in 2012). The number of US users prepared to share their age (44%), full name (31%), date of birth (19%) and web-surfing behavior (12%) have all increased.  But the figures remain static, from last year, for those in the UK willing to reveal their age (38%), full name (34%) and date of birth (19%) and they express a decreasing willingness to share web-surfing behavior (9%).

Interestingly, consumers in both countries are more protective of their contacts and photos than their home address, phone number or current location.

Low Awareness of Mobile Tracking

When it comes to tracking, 31% of US smartphone users are not aware that tracking takes place on a mobile device with the figure rising dramatically across the pond with 46% unaware in the UK. Those in both countries do not like the idea of being tracked (69% in the US and 70% in the UK) which is considerably higher than on desktop where 52% in the US and 47% in the UK express concerns about online behavioral advertising.

Smartphone users across both countries are actively involved in managing their mobile privacy concerns with 76% in the US and 69% in the UK stating they are ultimately responsible.  In addition, 40% of US and 37% of UK smartphone users check for an app privacy policy which is read by 35% of US users, but only 27% of those in the UK.  In addition, more smartphone users in the US (29%) check to see if an app has a trust mark or seal than in the UK (17%).

With mobile privacy concerns running higher than ever, the business implications simply can’t be ignored. If a user won’t download an app or share location data mobile commerce, and technology innovation, feels the impact.  It’s clear companies must address mobile privacy concerns by giving users what they want – more transparency and control over their privacy choices.

The US and UK Mobile Edition surveys will be followed up with a special report on Advertising Privacy later in 2013 and the full research findings will be shared at a series of TRUSTe ‘Powering Trust’ roadshows in the US and Europe beginning this month.

Full details of TRUSTe’s US findings can be found here and UK findings here

Mobile App Privacy Policies Are Now The Law

Tony Berman
Sr. Product Manager | TRUSTe

blankMobile application privacy requirements continue to evolve in the right direction.

Last week the California Attorney General’s Office announced an agreement with app store operators (Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion ) to enforce compliance with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. This requires all apps that collect personal information to have clear privacy policies. Under the agreement, consumers will now be able to review an app’s privacy policy before they download it. Developers who do not comply can be prosecuted under California law.

This is a really positive development for consumer privacy in the mobile space. Displaying privacy policies up front will allow consumers to make informed decisions on the apps they purchase.   It removes the element of Russian Roulette when purchasing an app without first knowing the data privacy practices associated with that app.

As discussed in my previous post, creating a mobile privacy is not difficult and TRUSTe provides a simple way to create a mobile formatted privacy policy that is easy for consumers to read and understand.

Developers need to do 3 things to comply with this California law:

  1. Create  privacy policies for their applications
  2. Add the privacy policy link in their app store listing
  3. Add the privacy policy link in the app itself

If an app does not collect personal information it does not need to have a privacy policy to comply with this law. However, TRUSTe recommends that, even if no personal information is being collected, the app should still have a privacy policy. It’s just as important for consumers to understand what your app doesn’t do as it is to understand what it does do. Here’s a sample of what a mobile app privacy policy created by TRUSTe’s policy generator looks like:


Once a privacy policy has been created for an app, developers can go the extra mile and certify compliance with their stated privacy practices with TRUSTe. Doing so will allow them to take advantage of displaying the TRUSTe Certified Privacy seal along with their privacy policy in their app store listing to differentiate their apps from competing apps in the marketplace.

What Should Mobile App Privacy Policies Look Like?

Joanne Furtsch, CIPP, CIPP/C
Policy & Product Architect

Last week, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) released its Mobile ApplicationPrivacy Policy Framework for mobile app developers.  TRUSTe was among the companies that actively participated in crafting this framework.

The document provides model disclosures addressing core components that must be in a privacy policy:  what data is collected, how it is collected, and how it is used (or shared).  The framework also highlights the importance of controls that need to be available to users of mobile apps, such as the ability to request access to collected data.

In addition to providing model disclosures, the framework also highlights what an app developer needs to take into consideration when drafting a privacy policy.  For example, with location data, it is just as important to state what is not collected, as it is to state what is collected.  Another key area of guidance is around the collection of data from children under the age of 13 as app developers would need to be sure their collection practices comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

TRUSTe appreciated the opportunity to participate in this collaboration, and it provides a great starting point to get app developers thinking about privacy and looking at what data they collect, how they use it, and whom they share it with. App developers also need to understand what data third parties may collect through their apps.  When developers embed third party code into their app it’s very important that they take the steps to understand exactly what that third party code does and how it can impact consumer privacy.

Design considerations for your mobile application and website

Part 3 in an ongoing series on the mobile platform & privacy

By Janet Jaiswal
Director of Enterprise BU


Screenshot of Facebook’s iPhone app

There is very little doubt in anyone’s mind that the iPhone has revolutionized the mobile industry and has forced the hands of everyone – from handset manufacturers and carriers to application developers – to be more creative and innovative in order to stay in the game. Another advantage Apple has is that it requires its developers to follow its human interface guidelines. These guidelines help mobile apps conform to good design principles. These design principles are so popular that more and more mobile apps and mobile web developers are following these guidelines regardless of whether they are on the Apple store, which contributes to the continuing appeal of the mobile device.

Tasks performed on mobile devices tend to be tactical in nature. Your users have a very specific need and they want to accomplish their goal in the easiest and fastest way possible. Best user interface design principles include:

  • Compact screen size requires a minimal feature set optimized for common use cases
  • Fonts and font sizes are used to show hierarchy and importance
  • The ability to only see one screen at a time means features must be progressively displayed
  • Large buttons are used to make interactions actionable
  • The commonality of the mobile form factor means users expect adherence to mobile design conventions – interactions should be conventional and consistent
  • Limited content real estate means help text creates unnecessary clutter – the interface should be simple and intuitive so that the user needs little instruction

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Mobile Web Initiative has created mobile web best practices to help companies follow best practices for delivering web content to mobile devices. These guidelines are just a start. You need to do more if you want your mobile app and/or website to continue to attract engaged users.

What can a company do when a user is presented with dozens, if not hundreds of similar, competing mobile applications? How can a company help a mobile app user feel comfortable sharing their location information with the app? How can you help users trust mobile forms that require them to share information such as their name, password, email or physical address? How can you help users trust mobile platforms linked to their financial accounts?

A study by TNS Global Market Research of more than 1,000 users in December 2009 revealed that more than 75% of users look for the presence of a privacy policy when giving personal information on a website. By following good mobile privacy policy design principles, you help your users feel more comfortable sharing their information on your mobile website or application. (more…)