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German consumer organisation warns: Apps want to know too much

A study which was published today by the German Federation of Consumer Organisations (vzbv) concerning access rights and transparency of mobile apps shows that:

  • most apps access far more private information than is actually needed for running the specific program,
  • in 50% of the analyzed cases, consumers were not able to reach app providers with questions concerning access rights.

Against this background, vzbv demands:

  • Apps should generally only access the information they actually need.
  • Consumers should be aware of the purpose why the information is accessed.
  • Consumers should be able to refuse the permission for single access rights.
  • App suppliers should be easily reachable for further enquiries.

The requests of the vzbv are in line with current efforts of the European Union on establishing relevant consumer rules in the app industry. At a meeting with the industry and national enforcement authorities on the 27th of February 2014, the four most important issues raised were: 

  • Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;
  • Games should not contain direct exhortations to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them;
  • Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements and purchases should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent;
  • Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

“Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases” – said Commissioner Neven Mimica – “National enforcement authorities and the European Commission are discussing with industry how to address this issue which not only causes financial harm to consumers but can also put at stake the credibility of this very promising market.”

 

Further information: http://www.vzbv.de/12992.htm and http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-187_en.htm

Source: vzbv and European Commission