ICO in mobile app developer outreach drive

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is briefing smaller app developers on data protection obligations as it and other data protection authorities draft an official “opinion” on how developers should treat consumers’ data.

Smartphone

The ICO’s efforts will concentrate on smaller app development workshops, or even individuals, making sure their products comply with the Data Protection Act and secure full consent of users over how their personal information will be accessed.

This includes potential workshops for start-up firms held at development hubs, such as TechHub in London’s Silicon Roundabout, according to Dr Simon Rice, group manager, technology, at the ICO.

“Getting to people like the ‘bedroom developers’ [smaller developers who often produce apps in their spare time] can be the tricky part,” he says.

Although he also adds the ICO is in regular contact with “gatekeepers” in the fragmented mobile app ecosystem, such as app store owners Apple and Google. This is to ensure all sectors are up to date with data protection responsibilities, despite it not being the responsibility of app store owners themselves under current guidelines, according to Rice.

This comes as the ICO and its European Union counterparts draw up an official “opinion” on how mobile apps treat users’ personal information following a two-day meeting of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party held in Brussels last week.

Members of the group, representing data protection authorities (DPA) from across the EU’s 27 member states, will draft the document over the coming weeks but no date has been set for its publication, according to Rice.

Also to have emerged from the two-day Article 29 meeting was news that Google is to face a co-ordinated, pan-European investigation into its privacy policies with a dedicated task force, headed by the French DPA, set to meet in the coming weeks.

Article 29 claims Google’s response to its earlier concerns over the web giant’s data protection policies failed to meet with its earlier recommendations and will invite Google to participate in a hearing.

“To date, considering that Google has not taken any precise measures in response to those recommendations, the requirements of Directive 95/46/EC are still not complied with,” reads a document outlining the proceedings.

A research study published today (Mar 4) from Adblock Plus indicates that up to 58 per cent of people do not feel comfortable with any of their personal information being tracked and shared by online advertisers.

The study of over 1,000 UK correspondents finds only 5 per cent of people feel comfortable with their search history being gathered and shared by advertisers.

Till Faida co-founder of Adblock Plus, says the results show a disconnect between online users and advertisers.

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