As the range of tools, services, and entertainment available through apps grows more abundant and more commonplace, customers are required to place more data ever - and trust - in the hands of the service provider.
These technologies burst onto the marketplace along with our now indispensable smartphones, and, at first, developed faster than security measures. Who could forget the reputational damage Facebook has suffered in recent years from the misinformation about who, where, and why user data is held and accessed by third-parties?
Protecting customer data is now a regulatory issue, with most countries in the world adopting best-practices for data usage. But access to personal data of some kind is required for these apps to function. In 2019, privacy is something no software developer can afford to ignore.
Why do apps need data access?
Whether streaming music, receiving directions in a city, or providing a shopping tool, software apps must access some form of personal data to operate.
This usually falls into three main categories:
- Direct personal information required to register for the service: This can include banking details for subscription services, passwords, or residential address information needed to ensure licensing regulations - which vary from country to country - are compliant.
- Access to other data sources in the customer phone: Some apps require access to location services, camera and photo functions or other third-party apps to fully-function.
- Analytic data of customer usage: Most apps will monitor and review analytical data to tailor services, improve functionality, and offer personalized insights.
From a customer standpoint, it may not always be obvious the data is required for functionality, especially if the information doesn’t seem relevant to the service, which is why improved communication and transparency are needed to build trust.
For example, PackageX aims to improve its own user communication and transparency by collecting names, nicknames, emails, addresses, and package labels in a secure manner to build a full user profile of a recipient, which in turn helps make the app become more intelligent. Since the PackageX Mailroom app is based on machine learning, it improves and makes predictions based on the data it collects, ultimately making it even more user-friendly for the mailroom staff and the receiver. Compliance with the data privacy standards is nevertheless a top priority for the company and our customers.
Avoiding data misuse
A key feature of most new privacy legislation is the ability for customers to opt-in and set their preference levels rather than having blanket privacy settings, which automatically give apps access to data and other functions in the device.
Developers should aim to make it clear for customers to understand why, how, and when data is collected and stored without the use of dense jargon. Privacy settings should be easy to access and adjust both during the initial set-up and at any point afterward. Data export and deletion commitments should be part of data processing terms.
Whenever apps handle data, on direct servers or the cloud, the responsibility falls on the provider to ensure it is adequately protected - any breach of this data now leaves companies liable for hefty fines in such cases.
Because of this, we’ve seen a spike in smaller apps using log-in integrations offered by the tech giants such as Facebook and Google. This not only provides customers an easier process by avoiding the need to create yet another set of credentials but means the application doesn’t need to store sensitive credentials directly.
In 2019, data privacy is something that cannot be ignored. While robust security and control measures are essential, improved communication helps to ensure customers feel comfortable using app services and opting-in to essential functionality features.
PackageX is committed to doing everything possible to build up its customer data so that it will benefit its customers — while still ensuring complete privacy and data protection. Our next blog post will further explore how PackageX uses AI technology to support this mission of providing a transparent service to build long-term customer trust.