Free apps aren’t always free — Discover privacy issues you need to know

Nina Rodríguez
Nina Rodríguez
Nov 22, 2019

With the popularity and abundance of all the apps and games that you can find online, there’s a tendency to download first and think later. Who has time to read the terms and conditions? But that’s an important step that should be kept if you want to protect your identity online.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all skipped the terms and conditions more than a few times. But why is app privacy so important? Why should we be more conscious when downloading an app? Basically, because your personal information could be at risk.

Your data can be shared even if you’ve not permitted it

Recently, FaceApp, a photo-editing application that allows you to see how you would look when you are older, ballooned in popularity. When you download this app, you are required to “accept” the terms and conditions, a step most people don’t even pause to consider. Instead, most of us just keep moving on our way to sharing enthusiastically with our network how we would look, finding resemblances between our parents and even grandparents.

Why is this such a big deal? Because some users noticed that by submitting your photos:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”

Whew … that’s a lot to digest! But, in short, it led Sen. Chuck Schumer to call for a federal investigation because he felt like there were potential security and privacy risks to millions of U.S. citizens. And this is not the only app or social media network that does this. So, what can you do?

Protecting privacy on apps

Our tips for keeping your personal information safe and your privacy secure:

  1. Be careful what you download on your phone.
  2. Read the terms and conditions before accepting them.
  3. If the app asks you for a password, create a unique password you don’t use anywhere else. Creating a strong password will make it harder to access any other information.
  4. If you are a parent, we have some more extensive tips on how to keep your kids safe online.
  5. Want to avoid phishing scams? Learn what they are, how to spot them and how better to avoid them in our guide to avoid phishing scams.

Complete, full security is not achievable, but it’s better to try 

Invasion of personal information can happen when you download apps, but it’s also something that can happen to even the biggest companies around the world. Companies such as Capital One, with about 106 million people affected, and Google (over 500,000 of their accounts) have been exposed to data breaches.

So, there is no easy way out. But making sure you read the policies to avoid downloading apps or connecting to networks asking you to accept shady policies is better.

For more information on app privacy and other ways to be safe online, be sure to stay connected to our experts on Facebook and Twitter and bookmark our Resource Center.