Same Issues, New Devices: Is Smartphone App Privacy Groundhog Day for Regulators?

13 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jennifer Betts

Jennifer Betts

Queens University Belfast

Sandra Scott-Hayward

Queens University Belfast

Sakir Sezer

Queens University Belfast

Robert Miller

Queen's University Belfast

Date Written: June 4, 2013

Abstract

In this article we explore how self-regulation by the advertising industry has failed to address the exploitation of users’ personal information for targeted advertising through the use of smartphone application (app) permissions. Currently smartphone apps are posing a privacy risk of which users are largely unaware. Personal information can be accessed when app permissions make requests to use phone functions that are unnecessary for the operation of the app. These can include access to users’ contact lists, emails and calendars and are sought by advertising networks, rather than the app developer. They can then surreptitiously gather personal user data to serve targeted advertising, but also to sell to other advertising networks and online businesses. Recent market research emphasising consumer trust and loyalty as a key asset for online businesses provides an opportunity for a change in the regulation of the advertising industry. We argue that the lack of transparency and self-regulatory enforcement demonstrated by app permission exploitation shows the potential for continued circumvention of privacy regulation by an industry with expertise in technological development and driven by profit. We therefore argue in favour of the introduction of co-regulation to provide the monitoring and enforcement powers that are clearly lacking in a continued reliance on self-regulation.

Keywords: privacy, advertising, regulation, smartphone apps

Suggested Citation

Betts, Jennifer and Scott-Hayward, Sandra and Sezer, Sakir and Miller, Robert, Same Issues, New Devices: Is Smartphone App Privacy Groundhog Day for Regulators? (June 4, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2351189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2351189

Jennifer Betts (Contact Author)

Queens University Belfast ( email )

25 University Square
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Sandra Scott-Hayward

Queens University Belfast ( email )

Northern Ireland Science Park
Queen's Road, Queen's Island
Belfast, BT3 9DT
United Kingdom

Sakir Sezer

Queens University Belfast ( email )

25 University Square
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Robert Miller

Queen's University Belfast ( email )

25 University Square
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
77
Abstract Views
1,107
rank
310,422
PlumX Metrics