So long story short I stumbled across a great site for you to check out privacy ratings called PrivacyGrade. I actually found this through reading an article by Kim Komando highlighting the cost to our privacy when we acquire free apps. Of course some apps need our personal information such as google maps, but what about apps like the Despicable Me game or Fruit Ninja? Why on God’s earth do they need this information? Speaking of God… more on that later.
We all know we don’t read the terms and conditions and unless you are on iOS you can’t set your own privacy settings on a case by case basis. This is where PrivacyGrade can help and it is run by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who have devised a simple grading system from A+ to D. This grading model measures the gap between our expectations of privacy behavior vs the actual behavior.
For example when you download Google Maps you know they will need access to your location data, or Gmail will need access to your contacts to make sending emails easier, you know what to expect and therefor both these apps get an A. “It does what it says on the tin” so to speak.
In terms of the low scorers the most surprising was the #1 Holy Bible app which scored a D, the lowest grade. This app’s permissions require full access to your network, your user accounts, your phone status and identity, can read your contacts and track your approximate location. Not only that but you also give permissions to third parties such as Flurry, Facebook, Tapjoy, Jsoup and Oauth! Who would have thought catching up on ‘His Word’ would require so much of your passive data.
Also concerning is the related app Bible for Kids which requires the same permissions. This was graded C which I don’t understand as the details are pretty much the same and I would have thought that our expectations would be stronger around privacy considering the target audience. Targeted advertising to your kids anyone?
If you can’t be bothered to read the T&C’s check out the Privacy Guide