Dutch consumers warned of data-stealing “free” apps

App store (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Apple Inc.). (App store (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Apple Inc.))

The Authority for Consumer & Market has launched a campaign to warn Dutch consumers that they are paying for free app with their personal information. The campaign is aimed at making consumers aware of how much personal data they make available when installing an app.

"It is very important hat consumers are aware of what they are saying 'yes' to when installing an app. As far as we are concerned, that is the starting point of the awareness we are aspiring to create", said Anita Vegter, board member of the ACM. "And saying 'no' is also an option".

A study done by ACM and NJR among young people show that they often do not realize that app providers make money from their personal data. The provider has to inform users about what they will do with their date and ask permission to access it, but 92 percent of the young people indicated that they usually do not bother reading the terms before installing an app. Only 21 percent of the young people read the permissions the app requests, such as access to data on a smartphone, including calendar, phonebook, location and photos.

The study also found that young people attach great importance to their online privacy, but often make very little effort to protect it. Many young people indicated that they have no problem with an app collecting data because they feel they have nothing to hide. But they do not realize that their data is being sold.

This campaign, called "Every app has a price", forms part of the nationwide Alert Online campaign, a joint initiative of the government, business sector and science to increase online safety.