App Information Privacy

techcrunch.gifTechcrunch has an interesting article that discusses app information privacy within the context of user information being ‘sold’ as part of a business model that is the hidden cost of free. The argument is that this information is often required to allow service providers to provide targeted ads. However, I see this as only one part of the problem.

What isn’t mentioned is the use of data to improve an app. Yes, 40 percent of apps collect information that isn’t actually needed for the app to work but in some cases this data is also used to analyse and improve the application. The most successful applications, including Google’s, have depended on extensive data collection to anonymously identify and classify users, work out what’s successful in the app, what isn’t, and all this within specific use contexts. Explaining this to the average user is difficult and they are bound to not fully trust developers’ intentions and opt out if they can. From a developer viewpoint, the problem with any scheme that gives the user more choice is that it’s likely to cut off opportunities of using such data to improve an app.