Staff Writer

A recent Tealium study says that 97% of consumers are concerned about where their data ends up. And right now, they aren't sure how (or if) they can gain control over their data. We know that 91% of consumers hope for stricter government policies about data, according to the Tealium study. We also know that almost 90% want to opt-out of selling their data, according to another study.

If you want to stay ahead of the game (and possible future regulations) to preserve consumer trust, it’s time to start cultivating a pro-privacy reputation for your brand. That's easier said than done for a lot of apps. For ride-hailing apps, you need a user's location. For photo-editing apps, you need access to a user's camera and microphone. So how do you find the right balance?

1) Collect Fewer Permissions & Personally Identifiable Information

Researchers found many apps collect unnecessary permissions and access sensitive personally identifiable information (PII). No app should be collecting permissions and info that it doesn’t need to be functional. Think of your users’ private information as available on a “need-to-know basis.”

It’s also important to be transparent when your app accesses a user’s system. Clarify when you're collecting data, so your users know that when they close the app the tracking ends.

2) Be Selective About Data Harvesting and Sharing

Your users need to know that data harvesting doesn't always mean their information is being exposed without their knowledge. Believe it or not, privacy-preserving data mining exists.

According to experts, those data-mining practices include:

  • Data altered for privacy before it gets to the data miner
  • Data-mining algorithms modified to prevent the release of sensitive PII

Apply these principles, then let your users know. It pays to explicitly state how you handle their data.

3) Avoid Unnecessary Location Sharing

Tons of apps need an exact user location to function. Weather reports, navigation, and fitness apps are the best examples.

Even if your app needs that information, you don't need to track a user's location constantly. Instead, consider collecting location only when your app is actively in use and provides value to your user. Better yet, collect data that doesn't give away your user's exact location instead. For example, weather apps still work based on zip codes alone.

4) Release Frequent Security Updates

Consumers love it when companies listen to what they want. Even if they might not read the software updates, they'll know you're taking steps to protect their privacy. Regular security updates indicate to users that you aren't complacent. Show them that you're vigilant against cyberattacks and that you value consumer trust.

5) Consider Skipping Social Sign-In

Using social media accounts to sign in to apps is convenient for consumers. But skipping them could be your biggest privacy win yet. Social sign-ins means sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have access to consumer data from your app, too.

If you do use social sign-in, don’t make it compulsory. Inform your users how social log-ins affect their digital experience, and let them decide how they want to proceed.

6) Be Transparent About Privacy Practices and Policies

In the privacy era, transparency is the name of the game. While users would love to decide what happens with their data, you can't overwhelm users with your privacy policies. The Tealium study shows that:

  • 72% of consumers would read privacy policies if they were shorter
  • 61% want policies to be more straightforward

In fact, the EU’s GDPR says that privacy policies must be easy-to-understand, and companies that balk at that may find themselves on the wrong end of serious fines.

Consumers are taking control of their privacy more than ever, which means it’s time to be a leader in this space. Now’s the time to implement privacy best practices in your app development strategy if you want to retain customer trust (and possibly avoid heavy fines).