Free apps: do you know what you're agreeing to? | ACMA


08 December, 2015 09:26 AM


Free apps: do you know what you're agreeing to?

By Editor


If you download free apps from market places such as Google Play (Android) or the Apple App Store (iOS)[1], then you may be interested to know about what you’re potentially agreeing to.

Free apps are popular

It’s projected that in 2016 more than 210 billion free apps will be downloaded worldwide.[2] And not surprisingly, 93 per cent of Australians download free apps.[3]

Permission requests

Before downloading a free Android or iOS app, you typically have to first agree to certain permission requests. These are usually a take-it or leave-it proposition—you can either choose to accept permissions and install the app, or not accept and the app won’t be installed.

But did you know

Agreeing to permission requests may actually mean certain types of data will be collected about you and shared among a number of third-party websites. This could include for example:

  • personal information—such as your email address, name, home address or phone information (e.g. your IMEI)
  • behavioural information—such as your username, employment details, friend connections, search history or medical information
  • location information—such as using your current GPS coordinates for tracking.

Also, Android apps are more likely to share personal information with 3.1 websites on average (typically Google and Facebook ad network-related), and iOS apps are more likely to share location information with 2.6 websites on average (typically Apple and Yahoo ad network-related).[4]

Mobile phone shows what you need to agree to when downloading a free app

Our advice

Before downloading a free app, make sure you read the permission request information to ensure you’re comfortable with what you’re agreeing to. As you can see, by agreeing to certain app permission requests, you may be sharing your personal, behavioural and/or location data with a number of third-party websites.

Further information

To read our related blog, see How to be happy with your apps

For general tips and useful information about mobile apps, see our Apps & in-apps purchases: a guide for consumers

Stay Smart Online Alert: Minimise the information you provide to applications on social media