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SXSW Interactive 2013

Apps Behaving Badly - Developers Gone Wild

The new mobile ecosystem revolves around apps. Consumers rush to get the latest games and tools, which has placed increase pressure on developers to churn the next great app at rapid speed. In turn, app stores race to offer top-selling apps to generate revenue, while marketers seek new ways to create demand. Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the consequences to consumer privacy and security.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Consumers expect free apps, developers need to monetize, advertisers want to collect data and analytics, and publishers need apps that will turn a profit. In the blink of an eye, we've reached a point where 85%+ of apps collect sensitive user data (location tracking, accessing calendars and address books, etc.), exposing consumers to unknown risk. How can we avoid this downward spiral?

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  1. What are hidden behaviors of apps? What percentage of apps (with & without user consent) perform location tracking, export contact book data, access calendars and share data with Ad Networks?
  2. Who's responsible for user privacy and security in mobile apps? Will consumers (eventually) demand safer apps? Do App Stores need to be stricter on developers? Will lawmakers have to step in?
  3. What are some safe ways to collect and manage user data when absolutely necessary? What defines safe levels of encryption? When do we need to use data obfuscation? What developer tools and services can we use to build safer apps?
  4. Will the market reward safer apps? Will ad networks, app stores and developers advertise the fact that they build safer apps that properly protect the end user's privacy? Are there other types of incentives to encourage good behavior?
  5. The app world is displacing traditional entertainment markets and allowing for a very intimate and personal interaction with consumers. But with great power comes great responsibility. In the long run, will technology enable privacy to make a comeback, or is technology going to kill off user privacy?



Domingo Guerra, President & Founder, Appthority

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Design and Development
  • Level: Intermediate
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