In recent years there has been an explosion of mobile applications (apps), with 1,600 new apps reportedly being added to app stores daily. Along with the increasing popularity of apps, there has been an increase in privacy concerns amongst Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) and consumers.

Recently, 23 DPAs from around the globe wrote to seven leading app marketplaces, including the Apple App Store, Blackberry and Amazon, to make it mandatory for app developers to post links to privacy policies prior to download if they are going to collect personal information. However the letter is intended for all companies that operate app marketplaces.

The recommendation follows the results of the second annual Global Privacy Enforcement Network Sweep carried out recently by global DPAs, which found that whilst privacy policy links sometimes appear in the app marketplace listings, this practice is not consistently applied. In fact, in 59% of the 1,211 apps examined it was difficult to find any privacy related information prior to installing the app.

As the DPAs have highlighted in their letter, such links provide a simple and convenient manner for individuals to be informed about the collection and use of their data before making a decision to download the app.

For tips on how to comply with data protection law and guarantee users’ privacy, when developing mobile apps, see my recent article Developing Mobile Apps: How to be privacy savvy published in the Data Protection Ireland journal.