The Washington Post

Mobile users avoid, uninstall apps over privacy concerns: Pew Report

Apple Inc's iPhones and Google Inc's Android phones send back data about the locations of the users to the technology companies, the Wall Street Journal reported on April 21, 2011. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

About six in 10 mobile phone users said they have decided against downloading certain apps over privacy concerns, a new survey finds. And in many cases, they have uninstalled apps that collected too much personal information about them.

According to the survey on mobile privacy released Wednesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, users made those decisions when they learned how much personal information they would share by using the apps.

The findings, in a survey of 2,254 adults, show that “many cell phone users take steps to manage, control or protect the personal data on their mobile devices,” according to the report’s authors.

The concern by users over privacy comes as federal regulators and lawmakers focus on proposed laws that would preserve the privacy of mobile device users. The Federal Trade Commission has complained that companies do a poor job of explaining their privacy policy in multi-page legal disclosures that are hard to read and filled with jargon that many ordinary consumers don’t understand.

The agency has also hailed recent voluntary efforts by companies, including Web browser providers, to offer consumers a Do Not Track choice to avoid having their personal information collected online.

Consumers seem less concerned about their location being tracked, with one in five cell phone owners saying they have turned off location tracking features.

One in three users cleared their cell phone browsing or search history, according to Pew.


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Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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