Beware the secret information spies that are infiltrating your home

A lawyer specialising in online transactions says that many households are unaware that their personal information is being gathered daily simply by the apps they are downloading for their phones and tablets.

Kate Legg, a lawyer at Higgs & Sons, says that most people don’t appreciate that as well as providing you with a service or game, apps are also information gatherers in their own right.

“In basic terms, people download an app and are asked to agree to the terms and conditions of that app. Most people do this without checking what permissions they are granting to the app to collect information,” explains Kate.

“In addition to knowing that data is being collected, I would be surprised if people question what the app is doing with the information once it has collected it. There’s also a further question of whether the app is incurring charges that the downloader doesn’t realise.”

Kate’s advice is to check what permission the app needs and consider whether it’s reasonable for a particular app to have that permission.

Kate says: “A good example is something like Google maps. You would expect Google maps to have access to the internet and to be able to collect data about your location. On the other hand, my advice would be that a simple wallpaper app wouldn’t need to know your location.

“Most apps may be free at purchase, but households should also be aware of in-app purchases. This is when the application itself may be free to download but there are additional add ons that can be purchased as you play the game or explore the app further. Fortunately, it’s possible to turn off in-app purchases and in most cases it’s just a simple button to do this.”

Kate concludes: “My advice for everyone is to check your privacy settings and if in any doubt, deny access until you research further.”