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Do I really need to read the privacy notice? Yes, says ICO

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the privacy watchdog of the United Kingdom, encourages people to check how an app is planning to use personal information before signing up.

All applications in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store offer an oversight of the data they collect. This may vary from name, location and device ID to more personal details like messages, photos, videos, financial information, browsing activities and all apps you have installed on your smartphone.

App developers are also obligated to submit a privacy notice. It provides a detailed statement on how the company intends to use your data and how to manage your personal information.

Loads of people get overwhelmed when they see a privacy statement. Instead of reading the terms, they just click ‘agree’ when downloading and installing an app.

“But signing up to an app often involves handing over large amounts of your sensitive personal information, especially with apps that support our health,” ICO points out in a press release.

The British data protection authority (DPA) reviewed period and fertility apps last year. Researchers checked whether they collect users’ personal information responsibly.

While the watchdog didn’t find any serious violations, it still contacted the app developers about the importance of protecting private information.

To make users understand the importance of privacy notices, ICO has publicly published a series of short videos for people using apps on Vimeo. These videos will be shared via social media over the next few weeks.

ICO recommends to ask yourself the following questions before installing an app:

· Is the privacy notice clearly written and easy to understand?

· Will they delete your data when you don’t want to use the app anymore?

· What measures do they have in place to prevent hackers from accessing your personal information?

· Who are they sharing your information with?

· Are you happy with where your personal information could end up?

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