Mobile Application Privacy Survey: Many Won’t Use Apps that Collect Personal Information

Apple has recently stated that it will start requiring app developers to obtain specific permission from users before collecting information such as contact lists from phones. A few apps, including Path and Twitter, have admitted to collecting and storing this information without getting consent from users. Although this information might be vital for some features of these apps, does this practice cross a line?

mobile apps

App Users

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 43% of respondents said they currently own a phone that uses mobile applications. Of those respondents, just 15% said they would definitely give an app permission to collect and store their phone’s contact list. 26% said they definitely would not give permission to do so, and 59% said they would want to know why the app needed that data before giving permission.

Deleting Apps

Most of the app users, 66%, said that they would actually stop using an application if they found out that it was collecting and storing data such as contact lists without first getting permission. 9% said they would be very angry, but not necessarily stop using the app. 23% said they would think it’s a privacy violation, but it would depend on why the app needs that information. And just 2% of users said they wouldn’t really care.

Privacy Policies

One type of feature where an app might need to collect data like contact lists would be a “find friends” feature, commonly found on social media sites. 26% of respondents said they have used this type of feature before. 60% have not, and 15% don’t use social media at all.

Many of these users, however, might not even realize that these practices exist, even if apps are required to get consent, because many users don’t take time to read privacy policies. Just 8% of respondents said they always read privacy policies, 13% said they read them often, 25% said they read them sometimes, 30% said they rarely read them, and 24% said they never read them.

It seems many users take mobile application privacy very seriously. But will gaining users’ consent solve the problem? Or will users just choose not to use certain apps that collect their phone’s data? The widget below shows the results of the survey in full. Be sure to click “open full report” for full details.

Photo Credit: iPod touch apps from Flickr

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on February 21 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.