The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is calling on Apple and Google to make adjustments to their appstores so that app providers are able to inform consumers about their privacy policies with regard to data. ACM has issued this call together with consumer authorities in 26 other countries around the world. This is the first time that so many international consumer authorities have joined forces in a single enforcement action. These consumer authorities can impose individual sanctions if Apple and Google do not meet the requirements set by the authorities.
Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Consumers have the right to know what each app does with their data. The app stores of Apple and Google currently do not offer that option. This needs to change as soon as possible. That is why we at ACM have taken the lead in this joint action.”
Mandatory information about data use
Last year, the consumer authorities in the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) conducted a study into the way consumers in appstores are informed about the personal data that these app providers collect, and what they do with this data. ICPEN established that this provision of information is inadequate. The way the app stores of Apple and Google are designed offers app providers insufficient room for providing such information, thereby leaving app providers unable to give consumers the necessary information. That is why the 27 consumer authorities now jointly insist Apple and Google adjust the layouts of their app stores in such a way that app providers are able to give the mandatory information about their data use.
Choices for consumers
Studies have shown that consumers compare apps on the way apps use their data, provided they get the right information in advance. Transparency is a precondition for that. If consumers get clear information about the data policies of individual apps in a timely manner, they will be able to make conscious decisions regarding apps on the basis of the amount of data that is collected or shared.
ICPEN is an international collaboration of consumer authorities with over 60 members globally. Together with the Norwegian consumer authority, among other authorities, ACM has organized this very first joint enforcement action.