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Can we trust the apps we download? Worldwide app revenue has reached $581.9 billion in 2020, and that number is expected to rise to $935.2 billion in just three years. Despite the vast number of apps we download—and the money we spend in the process—many (most) of us don’t know the terms and conditions (T&C) to which we’re agreeing.
An Deloitte survey found that 91% of people—and 97% of young people—consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. Even worse is that these T&Cs are too long and complex to actually read.
Banking service thinkmoney discovered that terms and conditions for the UK’s top 13 apps would take 17 hours to read. At the top of the long-read list is Microsoft Teams: It has a 18,282-word terms-of-service that would take 2 hours and 27 minutes to read. Next on the list is Candy Crush, a free-to-play mobile game, with T&C that would take 1 hour and 53 minutes to read.
Others apps on the list include Tiktok, Twitter, Whatsapp, Slack, Facebook, Messenger, Zoom, Gmail, YouTube, Instagram, and Google Meet. This list is from the United Kingdom, but the list for the United States is largely the same.
So why is this a problem? Often buried in those agreements you don’t read are hidden permissions that, say, grant access to your camera, make phone calls, and gather location data. Apps including Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram, which are all from the same company, ask for the most permissions.
The good new is that there are a few things you can do to stop these apps from taking control of your devices. Apple has has introduced new privacy features in iOS 14, and there are ways to stop Google from tracking you. You can also try one of the many privacy apps that we recommend to keep your data safe.
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