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Apple, Google and Microsoft 'unlikely' to adopt key GSMA privacy rules

Mark Little, Ovum analyst, argues that the rules would restrict their targeted advertising

Major app store players, such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, may be unlikely to adopt new privacy rules proposed by the GSM Association (GSMA) this week, as it would restrict their money making business models, according to analysts.

GSMA, a collection of companies devoted to developing the GSM telephone system, this week released a new set of guidelines that aim to provide users with better transparency and control over how apps use their personal information.

The guidelines are extensive, and ask that companies do not surreptitiously access or collect personal information, as well as provide tools for users to opt out of sharing information and inform them when details are being shared with third parties.

Mark Little, principle analyst at Ovum, argues that although Europe's major mobile network operators have agreed to implement the newly proposed guidelines, this will cover very few applications downloaded.

"I think that GSMA should be congratulated on producing these guidelines. When you go through the thirty or so statements that they make, they have been well thought through. However, they are just guidelines," said Little.

"The ability for the mobile networks to influence the whole ecosystem, which is really what is required to make this work, is another matter. Obviously the mobile networks do have their own apps, and they can impose the guidelines on their own native apps, but they are not the biggest part of any given app store. What we need is the major platforms and app stores to buy into this and roll it out if it's going to have any major impact," he added.

Little states that Apple, Google, Microsoft and RIM, who currently own the largest mobile app stores, are only likely to select some of the guidelines that don't restrict their revenue streams.

"I think the big players are likely to cherry pick, because with some elements they can do a big promotion that makes them look good in the market. But I think there are also elements that will restrict what they can do and may constrain some of their business models," he said.

"Giving users more transparency and understanding of data collection and giving them tools to opt-out is obviously going to impact on their targeted advertising business models. I think they are going to conveniently ignore these guidelines," he added.

"I'm sure they will go very strong on protecting children and other elements, but when it comes to constraining a business model that they actually make money out of, I don't think that they will follow the guidelines quite so closely".

Google refused to comment on whether it would be adopting the GSMA guidelines and Apple, Microsoft and RIM had not responded to requests for a statement at time of publication.


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