app store hero flat modernA review of 1,211 apps carried out by a coalition of privacy officials across 19 countries found that 60 percent of them failed at least one basic privacy test, reports the WSJ.

The officials found that 60% of apps raised privacy concerns, based on three criteria: They did not disclose how they used personal information; they required that the user give up an excessive amount of personal data as a condition of downloading the app; and their privacy policies were rendered in type too small to be read on a phone’s screen …

The review was carried out by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, an international body whose members include the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The most common issue, found in 43 percent of apps, was failing to make privacy disclosures readable on a small screen. While pinch-to-zoom is available in iOS, the need to scroll horizontally as well as vertically would make it impractical to find out what it is we’re agreeing to.

31 percent of apps requested access to personal data like location and contacts without explaining how the information would be used, and 30 percent provided no privacy information of any kind.

The U.S. government has been considering making it a legal requirement for apps to contain privacy policies, but the idea took a year to reach the proposal stage and more than a year after that still hasn’t made it into legislation. The European Union last year issued guidelines for mobile app developers, but these are recommendations only.

Apple has put rules in place for apps using its HealthKit platform in iOS 8, among them that apps must have a privacy policy and that data must not be shared with third-parties, used for data-mining or stored on the cloud.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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