The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has joined 26 countries around the world operating as the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) in calling on Apple and Google to make adjustments to their app stores so that app providers are able to inform consumers about their privacy policies with regard to data.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday, CFTC stated the need for the individual consumer protection authorities to consider sanctions if Apple and Google do not meet the requirements set by the authorities.
This is the first time that so many international consumer authorities have joined forces in a single action.
Last year, ICPEN conducted a study into the way consumers in app stores are informed about the personal data that these app providers collect, and what they do with the data. The authorities established that the provision of information is inadequate.
Reads the statement in part: “The way the app stores of Apple and Google are designed offers app providers insufficient room for providing such information, thereby leaving app providers unable to give consumers the necessary information. That is why the 27 consumer authorities now jointly insist Apple and Google adjust the layouts of their app stores in such a way that app providers are able to give consumers the necessary information about their data use.”
According to CFTC, studies have shown that consumers compare apps on the way apps use their data, provided they get the right information in advance.
CFTC insists that transparency is a precondition for that because if consumers get clear information about the data policies of individual apps in a timely manner, they will be able to make conscious decisions regarding apps on the basis of the amount of data that is collected or shared.
ICPEN) is a membership organisation for consumer protection authorities drawn from across the globe where CFTC is a member since 2017.
Commenting on the matter, CFTC economist Angella Kachipapa Mhone said the statement is a proactive approach to such issues.
She said: “Even though we do not have specific complaints on such issues here in Malawi, we know it is an issue. May be people didn’t know it is an issue that needs to be addressed.”