MANY smartphone users are unaware of potential leaks of personal information when downloading mobile apps, according to the Law Society of Hong Kong (香港律師會).
“There is no free lunch in this world, you must have given something to the app developers when they let you download the games for free,” Law Society council member Nick Chan Hiu-fung(陳曉峰) said.
Many users of popular apps such as Dropbox, Facebook Messenger, Candy Crush and Spotify do not know their phone contacts, location and mobile data may have been extracted immediately after the apps have been downloaded, he said.
This data is likely to be sold to advertising companies.
“I think most of the extracted information is not reversible and the only thing users could do is to delete the app,” Chan suggested.
He said sending files and messages online through e-mail would be more secure than messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram. Society vice president Melissa Kaye Pang (彭韻僖) said users would have unintentionally agreed to share data because not many would analyse the terms and conditions.
“Although some users may complain that the terms and conditions of certain apps are written in very small fonts, the public also have to understand and respect the spirit of contract,” Pang said. “In order to protect themselves, the public should spend time in reading the contract before abiding to it.”
Chan believes the current Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (個人資料 (私隱) 條例) in Hong Kong is not enough in protecting citizens, especially in the face of threats of privacy information leakage online.
He believes legislation is only enacted after incidents are reported, which could be too little too late as personal information has already been leaked.
“The legal protection over privacy in Hong Kong would not be too difficult to understand if one is willing to read it,” Chana dded.
(The Standard, Kinling Lo, 16 October 2015)
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