Today is Data Privacy Day, “an international effort to empower and educate people and organizations to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust,” and for the past several years we at NQ Mobile have been honored to champion this worthy and noble cause.
But after a year of corporate data breaches and celebrity hacking scandals, enhancing data privacy should be even more of a priority than usual. Just yesterday our Co-CEO, Omar Khan, published an article reflecting on President Obama’s decision to focus on data privacy and security in his State of the Union speech, as well as the importance of addressing the issue from truly global perspective.
And earlier this year, we helped fund a research project at Carnegie Mellon University, called PrivacyGrade.org, a site that analyzes and rates every child-friendly Android app and assigns it a grade based on its privacy sensitivity. Grades are assigned using a privacy model that measures the gap between people’s expectations of an app’s behavior when it comes to privacy and how the app actually behaves.
The research project uncovered a number of findings, including:
- Popular – and seemingly benign – apps for children, like Fruit Ninja, Despicable Me, Drag Racing, and the Holy Bible, are among the lowest-rated apps in terms of privacy sensitivity, all with “D” grades.
- These apps do everything from read a phone’s signal, carrier, and number, to use users’ account information stored on their phone, to access the internet.
- More than 200,000 of the most popular apps are able to access a user’s location.
- More than 61,000 of the most popular apps are able to access a user’s camera.
The fact that parents often let their children use these types of apps without any knowledge of the privacy implications – or lack thereof – shows just how little the average person considers data privacy in their day-to-day lives.
And that’s why Data Privacy Day is so important. Strengthening data security and privacy laws is a critical component – but education for everyday citizens is one of, if not the, best tools we have to combat data privacy threats.
So today we encourage anyone who cares about this important issue to get involved and help spread the word. Visit www.StaySafeOnline.org and click “Get Involved” to find out how you can participate, whether by sharing tips on social media or sharing data privacy resources at work or in public spaces like the local library.
Remember this: whether you know it or not, you’re impacted by data privacy. We all are. And as the world grows increasingly connected – and increasingly interconnected – we owe it to ourselves (and those we interact with online) to become more educated digital citizens.