Survey: Privacy a Top Concern for Mobile App Users

Consumers worry about what personal information they share

Privacy is a top concern for mobile app users, according to a telephone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. More than half of app users—57 percent—have either uninstalled an app over concerns about sharing personal information or decided not to install an app for privacy reasons, the survey found.

These findings, released today, come amid a growing debate in Washington over how to protect consumers' privacy on mobile devices. The Federal Trade Commission also published a new guide today to help mobile app developers observe truth-in-advertising and basic privacy principles.

Because it was the first time Pew asked the privacy question, it's unknown whether consumers are more or less worried than they were a year ago. Certainly more people use apps than ever before. The survey found that 43 percent of cellphone owners have downloaded apps, up from 31 percent a year ago. In that time, consumers have become "more discriminating" in how they manage their social and personal media, said Mary Madden, a research associate with the Pew Research Center. "The way apps collect or share information can really make or break an app," she said.

Among app users, 54 percent decided not to install an app after they discovered how much personal information they would have to share in order to use it. Nearly a third of app users uninstalled an app because they learned it was collecting personal information they did not want to share.

Pew's telephone-based survey of 2,254 adults ages 18 and older was conducted from March 15 to April 3.