App privacy for developers and what they need to know - Part 1 - Appromoters

App privacy for developers and what they need to know – Part 1

 In Best Practices
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Data collection among mobile users is a hot topic over the last weeks, and the challenges when it comes to user’s privacy have been heavily discussed. Nonetheless, there remains a confusing grey area around this topic, especially among app developers, to whom the GDPR recent implementation is giving headaches.

At Appromoters, we’ve decided to shed some light on this topic by sharing with you some exclusive in-depth research conducted by Doctor Verena Wottrich, a former PhD researcher, that has published various articles on how to tackle app privacy issues for brands and app developers with her thesis:

“Privacy Exposed: Consumer Responses to Data Collection and Usage Practices of Mobile Apps”.

Through a series of articles, we will give you key insights on her research and findings when it comes to mobile apps handling their user data, and how app owners should proceed with its collection, given consumers response.

Privacy: what are we talking about?

Before tackling privacy, and in order to understand it better, let’s have a look at its definition from a researcher standpoint:

There is a vast landscape of theoretical and empirical work (first-hand experiences on the concept of privacy, spanning disciplines from political science to information law, philosophy, psychology, communication, media and information studies, computer science, and marketing (Nissenbaum, 2009). In communication science exist 4 different types of privacy:

  • Physical privacy
  • Social privacy
  • Psychological privacy
  • Informational privacy

As privacy in the mobile app context is mainly related to the collection and usage of personal information, the focus lies here on informational privacy.

Source Privacy Exposed: Consumer Responses to Data Collection and Usage practices of Mobile Apps

Privacy in the mobile app context

Mobile devices and mobile apps are deeply ingrained in our everyday lives. In the U.S., for instance, internet users spend, on average, 71% of their digital media time on mobile devices (ComScore, 2017), and a total of 87% of that mobile media time is spent on mobile apps (Smart Insights, 2017).

The personal data generated through the use of digital systems, such as mobile apps, are often centrally stored in large data assemblages, which are vulnerable to security breaches, such as break-ins by hackers, data loss, or accidental disclosure to bad actors (Nissenbaum, 2009).

Just recently, in November 2017, the popular taxi app Uber disclosed that, a year earlier, hackers had stolen 57 million rider and driver accounts, including their phone numbers, e-mail addresses and names (Isaac, Benner, & Frenkel, 2017).

Source Privacy Exposed: Consumer Responses to Data Collection and Usage practices of Mobile Apps

When GDPR jumps in

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy. Its aim is to give explicit control over personal data to its subjects. The GDPR has been implemented with the goal to make sure that companies would be handling data of their users/clients the right way.

Since GDPR implementation on the 25th of May this year, it has become even more relevant for app developers to be on top of this as it can potentially endanger their core activity. More reasons for app owners to understand the dynamic between their users and the collection of their data. And even if only Europe is affected by this new regulation, it does show a real change of mindset regarding data handling in general as well as rising privacy concerns.

App users and their data

 How are app users dealing with their data being handled? Are they even fully aware of what’s going on? If yes, to what degree do they even care?

Brands, marketeers, app owners, app developers, we all have something to gain in knowing how consumers and more specifically app users react to the privacy protection challenge including how their data is being handled. And this is exactly what we’ll be tackling in a series of articles, all of them based on Dr Wottrich’s findings.

We’ll be covering:

…to finally dive into the general conclusion of the app privacy challenge.

In next weeks article, we’ll be tackling how app users are now under the spotlight when it comes to privacy protection.

Stay tuned!


Dr Verena Wottrich 

Graduated with a Masters Degree in Communication Science at the University van Amsterdam (UvA), she later put her focus on investigating what mobile app users know about the information collection methods of mobile apps, what they think about these techniques, which trade-off they make between the benefits of using an app and the costs of giving up their privacy, and how this all affects consumers’ affective and conative responses toward brands, while conducting her PhD at UvA’s Persuasive Communication department.


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