Earlier this year, mobile apps Path and Hipster were caught uploading users' address books without telling them. Both companies apparently did so in order to suggest friends for users, but that explanation didn't do very much to stem criticism by watchdogs -- not to mention class-action lawyers, who promptly sued those companies.
Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have released a new study, "Mobile Phones and Privacy," confirming what should have been obvious to app developers: The vast majority of people don't want to be snooped on by their apps.
Eighty-one percent of cell phone owners surveyed by UC Berkeley said they either "definitely" or "probably" wouldn't allow an app to collect a contact list in order to suggest more friends. An even greater proportion, 93%, said they definitely or probably wouldn't allow an app to collect friends' contact information in order to offer them coupons.
The study also found that people aren't thrilled with the prospect of location-based ads. A staggering 92% of survey respondents said they either definitely or probably wouldn't allow a cell phone provider to use their location to tailor ads to them.
The authors say those findings indicate that people likely don't see eye to eye with marketers and merchants when it comes to mobile phone data. "This suggests that the value proposition offered to consumers by service providers ... should be especially clear and compelling for desired uses of mobile phone data," the report states.
The study was based on a survey of more than 1,000 cell phone users.