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By Janet Jaiswal
Sr. Director and Mobile Product Manager


Why a Survey about Mobile User Privacy?

Consumers have long worried about data privacy, and now, the rise of the smartphone as the fastest-growing device for Internet access is fueling user demands for more control over how app developers, mobile websites and mobile advertisers collect, track, use and share user data. To learn more about how consumers navigate this emerging mobile landscape, TRUSTe worked with Harris Interactive to survey 1,000 members of its online consumer panel about their smart phone usage, behaviors, protective measures and privacy concerns.

The survey, conducted in February, 2011, revealed a strikingly high level of concern around personal information and data privacy, with security fears ranking second on the list of smartphone users’ concerns.

You can access TRUSTe’s full survey report, as well as other important resource materials, including a best practices guide on mobile privacy for app developers and consumers.

Consumers revealed that they are far less likely to use a mobile website, engage with a mobile app or click on a mobile ad if they don’t trust it to protect their data; they also showed a willingness to protect their information by reviewing privacy notifications and implementing password protections. In addition, cautious consumers engaged in risk-avoidance behaviors such as never accessing sensitive information from their phones. This kind of “better safe than sorry” approach limits the full potential and usage of mobile sites and apps.

So, how can app owners overcome these concerns? Many smartphone users said that the presence of a TRUSTe trustmark on a provider site or app offered a greater level of assurance about consumer-friendly privacy practices.

Survey Key Findings:

  • Privacy concerns rank #1: Most consumers expressed great concern about their data privacy both when using smartphones in general, and when using mobile apps in particular; this concern increases with the age of the user.
  • Consumers want more control over their data: 98% of consumers expressed a strong desire for better controls over how their personal information is collected and used via mobile devices and apps.
  • Advertising tracking causes significant concern: Nearly three-quarters of consumers are uncomfortable with the idea of advertiser tracking, and 85% want to be able to opt into or out of targeted mobile ads.
  • Location tracking turns users off: A significant majority (77%) of consumers doesn’t want to share their location data with app owners / developers.
  • Strong passwords and policy disclosures are valued for protection: To protect themselves, consumers most often create strong passwords and read privacy disclosures before they log into a site or use an app.
  • Consumers feel safer when they see a privacy trustmark: Consumers recognized the TRUSTe brand and shared a strong consensus about TRUSTe’s value in providing assurances for users visiting sites or apps that display it.

TRUSTe will co-host a webinar with Harris Interactive next week to present the results of the survey in more detail on May 5, 2011 at 10 AM PT (1:00 PM ET). You can register for this webinar at

Key Takeaways

Companies connecting with consumers via mobile platform (whether through mobile apps, websites, or ads) are missing significant opportunities to engage their audiences since a lack of evident privacy protections inhibits wider consumer engagement and adoption.

These survey findings show that the mobile industry must work harder to demonstrate its commitment to privacy protections, or risk missing the full potential of the platform.

To see how companies such as Yelp, Worldmate, Thumbspeak and have successfully addressed mobile privacy issues with the help of TRUSTe’s mobile privacy certification program for mobile websites and mobile apps, visit You can also access white papers and other resources on how to incorporate best practices into your mobile property, thereby increasing user trust.

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