EU data chiefs warn mobile app developers over data use

App developers are often in breach of European data protection laws for failing to obtain informed consent over how consumers’ personal detail will be accessed, according to European lawmakers.

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The charge comes from Article 29 Working Party chairman Jacob Kohnstamm alongside a joint statement from European data protection authorities – Article 29 is an umbrella group for these bodies – addressing key data protection concerns raised by uptake of mobile apps.

“These apps are able to collect large quantities of personal data from the device, for example by having access to the photo album or using location data,” reads the statement.

But Kohnstamn adds: “This often happens without the free and informed consent of users, resulting in a breach of European data protection law.”

The group also notes that although most app developers are motivated by the desire to provide “new and innovative services”, their apps may pose significant risks to the private lives of users if they do not comply with EU data protection law.

“Individuals must be in control of their own personal data. Therefore apps must provide sufficient information about what data they are processing before it takes place in order to obtain meaningful consent,” reads the document.

However, the group also highlighted the responsibilities of other stakeholders in the mobile app development ecosystem – such as app stores owners and device manufacturers – highlighting how in some cases their data protection obligations are shared.

Earlier this month, Marketing Week revealed how the UK’s data protection service, the Information Commissioner’s Office, was briefing smaller mobile app developers to ensure they were aware of their obligations under the current legislation.

The use of data by brands for the purposes of marketing is under scrutiny with new European data protection laws currently being debated in the EU legislature.

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