Vodafone calls for new approach to mobile app privacy comms

Vodafone is calling the app development economy to take a lead from the food industry’s messaging by developing a consistent set of communications over privacy guidelines, according to one of the global operator’s top legal voices.


The mobile operator’s global parent group is briefing third party app developers on how to produce a consistent set of communications telling consumers how their personal information will be used by developers, including if it’s to be shared with advertisers, in order for them to make money. 

Kasey Chapelle, Vodafone’s global privacy counsel, told Marketing Week the operator is pressing third parties, particularly mobile app developers, in the mobile content sector to help safeguard its subscribers’ privacy and any potential consumer backlash over privacy concerns. 

“We need to develop short-form, consistent privacy notifications along the same lines of nutrition labelling [where industry players are expected to adhere to agreed guidelines],” she says. 

Vodafone is now telling its own developers to adhere to the new guidelines and is lobbying third parties to do likewise via a number of trade organisations including mobile operator trade body the GSMA and MEF. 

Chapelle says: “Mobile operators can’t play the role that we used to [in terms of protecting mobile users’ privacy] any more as people such as handset manufacturers [Apple for example] get involved [with app stores, etc].”

The mobile operator is working as part of a MEF industry working group, others include Firefox-provider Mozilla and privacy body TRUSTe, called Privacy in Mobile Apps to launch a set of guidelines AppPrivacy to help third-party developers set policy. 

A recent consumer study of almost 1,000 smartphone users by TRUSTe found that concerns over how smartphone apps access user data is on the rise, with 76 per cent of smartphone users claiming they won’t download an app they don’t trust – up from 68 per cent a year beforehand.

Meanwhile, 54 per cent of smartphone users are “frequently” or “always concerned” about privacy when banking online, the online activity causing mobile users the greatest concern, followed by shopping online (50 per cent), according to the study.  

This consumer unease is also starting to determine the communications policies of some of the world’s largest brand-owners with Unilever revealing to Marketing Week that it was to overhaul its approach to communicating privacy policies in order to make them more understandable, and assuage any potential concerns from data regulators earlier this year. 

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