Inside 1to1:Privacy

Gadgets, phones and apps: Top 10 protection tips for consumers and businesses

August 12, 2010

Compiled by TRUSTe

It's not just the PC anymore. Smartphones, cameras, gaming counsels, anything Web-enabled can transfer or share your information. This is not limited to hardware; this also applies to mobile applications, social applications, networked games and a range of software. Even if the transmitting and/or sharing is in your control, and you opted into it, you could lose your device, forget your settings or sell it without considering the information you have on it. Here are some guidelines for businesses and consumers.



Provide Transparency and Education about how the device works and what it transmits or shares. Make it easy, but make it clear.

Provide Choices Set the defaults to a privacy-protecting level. Make consumers opt in to sharing or transmitting information.

Provide Security
To the extent possible, provide ways for the consumer to protect their information on a device. These can include physical protection, password controls, remote management, etc. Try to make these easy to use.

Understand Data Sensitivity Recognize that your software and gadgets may have sensitive information--financial and health data, for example. Take extra care to secure and educate your customers.

Design for Privacy Make sure the product and development teams, not just the legal or regulatory compliance teams, understand the privacy implications.

Require That Your Partners Live Up to Your Privacy Requirements Ensure they live up to your requirements. Monitor them.

Have a Privacy Policy Be sure that it accurately reflects your practices and your commitment to providing privacy and choices. Live up to it.  

Be Accountable Provide consumers a way to contact you as it relates to your device. Monitor your systems. Continuously.

Understand International Privacy Law Some countries might be much more restrictive about what can be shared or transmitted, and others might want rights that intrude upon your customers' privacy.  

Share this Advice Like consumers, businesses and other organizations need to learn and embrace best practices.  



Know Your Gadgets Understand their capabilities, what information they may be collecting and options you might have around sharing your information. Does your gadget provide you with notice when accessing and transmitting your information?  

Demand Choice Mobile or Web-enabled devices should require you to opt in to sharing most information, especially personal information, location information, photos and the like. You should have the persistent ability to change those choices. Make sure that the default settings are not open to transmitting or sharing information

Secure Your Device Remember that when you lose a device, you may be losing all the information in it and that information can go to unsavory players. Take advantage of any options to remotely turn off your device or to wipe it clean. For example, with the iPhone, Apple offers a remote find and "remote wipe." Of course, you have to opt in to this. (Remember, of course, to back up your information)

Clean or "Wipe" Your Gadget When you sell a used phone, iPad, iPod, MP3 player, computer, camera or anything with a memory, wipe it clean of information before you sell. Reformat the memory. Take out the card.

Share Location Information Carefully It's great to have check-ins and tag pictures of where you are and find your friends. But on the flip side are stalkers, thieves and others who may not have your best interests in mind. Don't broadcast that you're on vacation, for example.

Share Friend/Family Information Carefully While you might be fine with all of your information transmitted widely, your friends and family may not have the same inclination. Take care when posting their pictures online.

Remember, Anonymity Only Goes So Far Even if you think you are anonymous, on a dating site or in photo galleries, unsavory players can potentially identify you by putting together a number of data points--location, what your t-shirt says, people you are associated with and what you bought.

Check What You Buy Be sure that it isn't enabled to share your information based on the prior owner's settings.

Do Unto Others If you find yourself with someone else's data, consider what you'd what them to do with your information. Delete it.

Share this Advice We're all in this together; we can all educate one another.

TRUSTe, best known for the privacy trustmark, helps large and small businesses with their privacy program, including certification of their privacy practices