Privacy is on the agenda. With the introduction of the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017, organisations must begin reporting any data breach that could cause harm to individuals.

Run by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, this change means anyone involved in app development has to have the infrastructure in place to identify, prevent and report on such breaches. So what steps can developers take to make sure personal information gets the right protection?

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With smart phone penetration in Australia so high, app developers must ensure their data security is top notch.


More penetration means more mobile privacy concerns

Australia is a global leader in smart phone use. Deloitte’s 2017 Mobile Consumer Survey indicates that 88 per cent of us own a smart phone, and 35 per cent are checking their screens within five minutes of waking. Fingerprint identification, record levels of data use and a spike in mobile payments are all key trends over the last year.

This level of penetration spells out a few issues in terms of information privacy. Greater smart phone (and therefore app) penetration means more:

  • Email and physical addresses.
  • Phone numbers and social connections.
  • IP addresses and UDIDs.
  • Biometric information.
  • Location data.

While the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) for data protection typically apply to organisations with turnover in excess of $3 million, all app developers need to learn how to enhance their data security alongside the rapid growth in personal data these apps tap into.


What steps do app developers need to take for their information security?


How to build privacy into your development

Under the OAIC’s guidelines, there are several key steps that Australian app developers should take to ensure users’ information is under wraps.

  1. Appoint and analyse

Your workplace structure should have a point person who is in charge of privacy. They should use the OAIC’s Privacy Impact Assessment to identify exactly what information your app collects, where it is stored, and the existing security in place. They should also be in charge of checking that third-party contracts hold others accountable to their privacy obligations with information provided through your app.

  1. Put it in policy

A privacy policy is crucial for building trust with users. It must be easy for consumers to access, and be clear about what information your app is using, and why. Your team must update this whenever there is a change, and let users know. Implement a monitoring process for ensuring your privacy policy is upheld at all times.

  1. Secure consent

The restrictions of a smart phone should not be a barrier to meaningful consent for information use. The OAIC recommends using short-form notices in the app, building a privacy settings dashboard that users can customise, and using basic colour coding to identify when and where personal information is being used.

Users should give their consent early – at point of download, without being spammed with jargon. Keep requests for information-use clear, impactful and brief – and give users a clearly labelled opt-out option.

  1. Check your collection

In most cases, your app will not need every single detail about a user to perform its function. It is tempting to capture as much as possible for potential analytics purposes, but the OAIC recommends capturing only what you need.

Have proper procedures in place for storing, securing and deleting data. Encrypt all every transmission or storing of data, and communicate to users how long you hold their information.


Building secure apps can be excellent business for Australian developers.


Better privacy in app development is a better future

Strong privacy protocols are more than common sense – they’re good business. Pew Research data from 2013 indicates that 51 per cent of teenagers avoid apps due to privacy concerns, while 26 per cent have actively uninstalled or deleted one because it was tracking data they didn’t want to share.

The further your app development goes to publicising and promoting privacy, the better off you are likely to be. To find out more about protecting information in app development, contact the team at Techwitty.

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