At A Glance: Mobile internet set to grow, privacy concerns too

Global shipments of smartphones will reach 1.28 billion this year (Reuters)
Global shipments of smartphones will reach 1.28 billion this year (Reuters)

Three billion people are now using the internet, and future growth will mean privacy concerns will need further consideration, according to a new report.

The Internet Society's 2015 Global Internet Report also predicts tablet sales will surpass total PC sales this year.

Getting the next billion people online will likely come from getting them on mobile devices, which means services will need to be more available and affordable.

While the society says ever-increasing app use and internet-capable phones have a number of benefits for businesses, entrepreneurs and those using the devices, such as the disabled, the issue of privacy and security must be addressed.

"Many of us rely on our phones to help us navigate an unfamiliar city, suggest restaurants in the area, summon a taxi, or find constellations in the night sky. However, many of us also are surprised when confronted with the resulting data on our location and movements that is stored and shared among a variety of companies involved in providing location-based services," the report says.

Concerns over privacy rise as people put more of their personal information on their smart devices which may be accessed by others.

As a way to combat the problem, the report suggests a number of things including making it "simple and granular" for people to control relevant permission for apps.

App developers should also provide sufficient privacy choices and refrain from trying to access information not directly needed by the app.

"Regulatory intervention is a possibility, to impose guidelines if needed and enforce compliance."

It also suggests an agency model to help manage the multitude of apps and their different privacy settings.

"In this model, an intermediary or trusted agent would be given the users' overriding preferences on access to each feature – such as location or contacts – and then implement those permissions for each individual app."

Research by Norman Sadeh, a professor in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science's Institute of Software Research, showed it is possible to predict a person's mobile app privacy preferences with more than 90 percent accuracy based on their answers to several privacy-related questions.

3 News