Smartphone users actively avoid snooping apps

Most mobile app users have rejected an app after deciding it wanted too much personal data according to a newly published survey.

The research from the Pew Internet Project questioned the cellphone users who download apps. That’s 43 percent of all cellphone users, which translates as the vast majority of people with a smartphone.

Among this group, 54 percent have either downloaded or examined an app but decided not to install it when they found out how it would gather and use personal information. 30 percent say they’ve installed an app but later deleted it for the same reason. In total, 57 percent of people fall into one or both of these categories.

Across different demographics and user bases, the pattern was fairly consistent. There weren’t any statistically differences between iPhone and Android users. Men were slightly more likely than women to have deleted an app, while those who attended college were more likely to have chosen not to install an app in the first place than those who only went to high school. Other than this, gender, age, income or educational background made little difference.

The survey also looked at specific measures people have taken to protect privacy. Half of smartphone owners have cleared browsing or search history (which seems high given most people won’t expect others to view this information) and 30 percent have turned off location tracking. Men are more likely to clear their browsing history: we all know why, but let’s pretend it’s because they don’t want wives to see that diamond site and spoil their birthday surprise.

Other questions included those about lost phones or those accessed without permission. The most interesting finding is that BlackBerry devices are the most likely to be stolen, but the least likely to be accessed without permission. That either means BlackBerry owners are mature business people who don’t snoop on each other’s handsets for fun, or that they are much more subtle about sneaking a peek without the owner knowing.

A majority of smartphone owners back up data from their handset occasionally or frequently, though surprisingly people who’ve had a phone lost or stolen don’t seem any more likely to make back-ups as a result.

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