Mobile Apps Put Users’ Privacy at Risk, EU Regulators Say

Applications for smartphones and tablets can pose “significant” privacy risks for consumers if they aren’t aware of how their personal data is used, European Union privacy regulators said.

“Although app developers want to provide new and innovative services, the apps may have significant risks to the private life and reputation of users of smart devices if they do not comply with EU data-protection law,” the EU’s 27 data-protection watchdogs said in a joint opinion, according to a statement on the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s website.

The EU regulators said users “must be in control of their own personal data” and informed how it’s used when they download an app. Everyone involved in developing mobile software programs “has a set of important responsibilities to create a safe, secure and data-protection-compliant app environment,” said the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, the umbrella group for national privacy authorities in the EU.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said earlier this month that U.S.-based technology giants such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and other non-European companies that offer services in the European Union must abide by the bloc’s overhauled data-protection rules. Google and Facebook are among several U.S. Internet companies that have faced scrutiny in the EU for possible privacy-rule violations over their use of personal data.

While the Article 29 group has no powers to enforce its opinions directly, national data-protection regulators in Europe have varying levels of power to take action, including the levying of fines, against companies.

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