GSMA launches app privacy initiative

The GSMA, with the support of leading mobile operators in Europe and following consultation across the wider mobile ecosystem, has published a set of global Privacy Design Guidelines for Mobile Application Development.

In a release issued at the Mobile World Congress, GSMA said the guidelines aim to provide users with better transparency, choice and control over how apps use their personal information. Mobile operators in Europe will implement the guidelines for their own branded applications.

“Mobile has become an incredibly important and influential tool for people around the world, regardless of age or geography,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “However, with this growing use come significant privacy concerns over the ability of mobile users to exercise choice and control over the use of their personal information. The publication and implementation of the Privacy Design Guidelines for Mobile Application Development will help preserve the trust and confidence of users as they navigate this new world of applications.”

The GSMA is committed to working with stakeholders from across the mobile ecosystem to help establish effective and consistent privacy experiences for mobile users, and to ensure that privacy is a key consideration of all mobile services.

These guidelines build upon the Mobile Privacy Principles introduced last year and describe the way in which consumers’ privacy should be respected and protected when they are using mobile applications and services that access, use, or collect their personal information.

Mobile operators in Europe, including Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom - Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera and Vodafone, are now starting to implement these guidelines for their own operator-branded mobile applications. It is hoped other parties in the mobile ecosystem will follow the lead of mobile operators and consider how they can adopt the guidelines.

“Protecting our customers’ data is of paramount importance to Orange, and we are fully supportive of this initiative that clearly puts customers’ needs for privacy at the forefront,” said Jean-Marie Culpin, Group Director of Marketing, Orange. He continued: “As more and more of our customers reap the benefits of what the digital age has to offer, Orange is here not only to provide these opportunities, but to support, guide and protect them on this journey of discovery.”

 “In order to maintain the strong growth in both the sales and popularity of mobile apps, customers need to be confident that their privacy is protected when they use them,” said Stephen Deadman, Group Privacy Officer, Vodafone. “This is the responsibility of the entire mobile industry, and these guidelines set an important standard in defining what consumers should expect from their apps.”

The Mobile App Privacy Design Guidelines are aimed at all those in the mobile app or service delivery chain who are responsible for collecting and processing personal information about mobile users, including developers, device makers, OS companies, mobile operators, advertisers and analytic companies. The guidelines encourage the development, delivery and operation of mobile applications that put users first and help them understand what personal information a mobile application may access, collect and use; what the information will be used for and why; and how users may exercise choice and control over this use.

“The Privacy Guidelines which are being implemented now are an important first step, but to effect real change, there needs to be close collaboration between the mobile industry, Internet industry, civil society and regulators,” continued Bouverot. “Today’s announcement is a good first step in establishing best practices for our industry. We encourage an active dialogue and broad support of these guidelines across the entire ecosystem to ensure we deliver a secure environment that respects the privacy of mobile consumers.”

For a copy of the GSMA’s Privacy Design Guidelines, please visit

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