back to article Sneaky phone apps just about obey the law, still have no trouble guzzling your data, says Which?

Apps use sneaky tactics to get UK users to hand over more info than they need to – and privacy policies remain long and confusing. These claims were this week emitted by Brit consumer rights body Which? in a report into data privacy of 29 commonly used Android and iPhone apps released. The investigation found that – despite …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Seriously thinking of going for a very basic phone that can do calls, emails, whatsapp/telegram and nothing else.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge
      Happy

      Better still...

      Why not have one that has but 2 "apps"? (a) make phone calls, and (b) send text messages?

      This article merely reinforces my joy at not being a smartphone owner, or (more correctly) not being owned by a smartphone.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      WhatsApp is the problem in that statement!

      That is one of the worst GDPR offenders. Many companies are banning its use on company devices, the biggest one so far Continental / Conti.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not using Apps? Its no longer optional anymore

    The following 'mission-creep' was in the news briefly before it was hidden away / buried. How long before its no longer optional to opt-out of Apps:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45590293

    ______________

    "Fitness tracking to all policies - One of the largest life insurance providers will no longer offer policies that do not include digital fitness tracking. John Hancock will now sell only "interactive" policies that collect health data through wearable devices such as a smartwatch. Policyholders can earn discounts and rewards such as gift cards for hitting exercise targets.

    "But critics said the announcement was "creepy" and "dystopian". - Activity-tracking devices such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit can record how much exercise somebody is doing and can be used to log dietary choices.

    "But privacy advocates have warned that insurers could use tracking data to punish customers who fail to meet targets. "Naturally the American dystopian surveillance state will combine insurance with fat-shaming. Welcome to hell."

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Not using Apps? Its no longer optional anymore

      Given that with a FitBit, I can "run" a marathon without getting off the sofa, the use of such devices is spurious as best.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Not using Apps? Its no longer optional anymore

        Given that with a FitBit, I can "run" a marathon without getting off the sofa...

        Please spare us the details of your private life.

        Having said that Mrs Commswonk once tried a FitBit or equivalent and was very surprised to find that while she had walked perhaps 10 or 15 yards hanging out the washing her "activity tracker" was of the view that she had done some considerable running. I had to explain that as it was mounted on her wrist it was merely counting how much arm waving she had done and nothing else.

        Come to think of it she gave up on the idea more or less immediately thereafter.

  3. Joe Drunk

    Nothing new, nothing will ever change

    Been this way since the MS-DOS days of installing apps with pages-long EULAs, now carried over to modern day Ts&Cs. There's little point in reading any of them, they essentially can all be summarized in three lines:

    We Win.

    You Lose.

    Fuck You.

    1. Herring`

      Re: Nothing new, nothing will ever change

      With MSDOS, you would've never have got away with a bunch of TSRs that reported your activity to ... actually to where? And you'd probably notice as soon as it sent the ATDT command to the modem.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new, nothing will ever change

      "pages-long EULAs, now carried over to modern day Ts&Cs. There's little point in reading any of them"

      Anything illegal (and even some nominally legal stuff) in T&Cs is unenforceable at law. The big corps keep getting away with it because there is little pushback from users challenging the T&Cs and no penalty to them from having illegal terms in T&Cs.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nothing new, nothing will ever change

        "The big corps keep getting away with it because there is little pushback from users challenging the T&Cs and no penalty to them from having illegal terms in T&Cs."

        That's because the Big Corps know they will lose in court if challenged in a proper legal environment. They will prolong any legal action as much as possible to make it "go away", probably because the challenger runs out of money, or they will eventually settle out of court with an NDA attached to the pay-out.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing new, nothing will ever change

      Been this way since the MS-DOS days of installing apps with pages-long EULAs, now carried over to modern day Ts&Cs.

      The adage is usually that the beginning gives, and the end taketh away.

      That reminded me of this wonderful cartoon about EULAs which is in my opinion absolutely brilliant (so is the rest of the series, btw).

    4. G Mac

      Re: Nothing new, nothing will ever change

      You would think the AI/ML types out there would do something amazingly useful by being able to identity the WTFs and Gotchas in T&Cs.

      You know, something folks could use everyday.

      1. Microchip

        Re: Nothing new, nothing will ever change

        I remember using EULAlyzer for the purpose years ago. Looks like it's still around.

        https://www.brightfort.com/eulalyzer.html

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    Don't expect anything useful to happen

    Great stinking advert pusher creates a mobile ecosystem in which it's practically impossible to opt out of all of this rubbish.

    Is anybody surprised?

    Do you remember the good old days when Google used to give its search results a "how long this took" with a stripped down front page just so it could be notably faster than AltaVista. Look how much dangling dollar signs changed all of that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't expect anything useful to happen

      I think Google's apparently blank search page is an example of deceptive design in itself. Just run a browser in dev mode and see just how much code you execute when loading that "blank" front (if you didn't have every blocker on the planet loaded) - it's scary.

  5. mintus55

    Ban All Apps on Corporate Devices

    At some point this has to happen, you can't have apps just having free access to company emails etc

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Fix

    "Based on average reading it would take 22 hours, 21 minutes to read all the policies in one go."

    Make all EULA un-skippable with the duration based on the average reading speed or directly compensate with pay per hour for the user to read. This will make users second think whether or not the app or service is worth getting and make companies reduce EULA to at most 0.999hr long.

    Actually, laws should be done the same. Other than minimum salary pay per hour for the first 8hrs, if the reading duration of all the laws in a country exceed 8hrs, the government need to pay overtime pay to each citizen and exponentially increase for each additional days. All those pointless laws will be gone in a blink.

    no, I do not feel sorry for the lawyers.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Web ID Ownership

    I think over time we will probably have more control of our digital ID's and who gets to use them including apps, companies etc. GDPR is just a first step and our digital ID are our biggest online assets. Blockchain use cases are trying to bridge this gap but probably too early yet.

    Basically friction between big tech, the regulator and how much the consumer cares....

  8. TStub

    Web ID

    Hopefully in time we will have more control of our online ID's and who gets to use what information about us, there is a dynamic friction between big tech, the regulator and the consumer's willingness to give away what is one of their biggest online assets (who they are and what they do).

    It is crazy to think that any consumer would read more than 2/3 pages (max!) of a privacy policy and that the average consumer is likely to understand the full implications.

    There are some Blockchain use cases around ID but I suspect culture and technology have some way to go to catch up with their thinking.

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