Top tips for ensuring privacy in your gaming app

Intel Developer Blog: Softtalkblog looks at how to protect user data
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Given that the barriers to creating and distributing games apps are so low, it is perhaps not surprising that there have been some privacy scares in the apps business.

Loose privacy policies have been used to get consent to access personal data such as contacts, emails, phone calls, phone numbers and GPS location data.

There might be a case for some sensitive data access, such as GPS used for advertising in a free app with the user’s consent. But when apps massively over-reach and dig into data they don’t need, or don’t have permission to use, that’s bad for users, and bad for business.

Here are some top tips for managing privacy in your games apps, whatever device you develop on, from Ultrabooks to Android devices.

Translating the bigger picture to the smaller screen
Even on desktops, users are unlikely to read ten pages of security and privacy information. So on mobile devices, with smaller screens and easily-interrupted user attention, this is an even bigger challenge when it comes to communicating your privacy policy.

However, users expect transparency. The information should be clearly presented in a way that grabs their attention – you can use graphics, colour and sound to get the message across. You may want to layer the information: put important information up front, but embed links to the details.

Let them know what information will be gathered, what you’re using it for, where it will be stored, how long you will keep it and any other issues that will affect your user’s privacy. You’re aiming for your players to give you well-informed consent.

Know your components

As you are accountable for whatever happens in your app, make sure you’re using trustworthy code and development kits. There is a risk that some might contain adware or malware you aren’t aware of, which could mean your app becomes infected. Stick to reputable sources for tools and code, including the Intel Software Development Tools.

Keep data collection to a minimum

Only gather the information you actually need. If a user discovers your egg timer app has access to their phone calls, it could spark a public outcry that destroys your reputable, whether the privacy leak was intentional or accidental. If users choose to delete an app for any reason, their information should automatically be deleted as well.

Be watchful of data information activity

When your app is up, running and satisfying the needs of your user base, make sure you have a monitoring programme in place to ensure the app handles personal information in the way promised in the privacy policy.

This is more a question of the maturity of your organization, but as the organization grows, you might find people want to use data in new ways that you don’t have permission for. If you make any updates to your privacy policy, give users enough time to feed back before any changes are made.

Know the law

You’re a businessperson, and your app is a business, so you need to know the laws that it must comply with. The Data Protection Act not only sets down legal obligations, but also forms a framework for what users might consider reasonable: make sure you’re disclosing what data you gather, only using it for the purpose you disclose, and not retaining it any longer than you need to.

Trust is a fundamental requirement for user loyalty. When your app respects users’ privacy, you can build a strong relationship with your users. Leave a comment below if you have any extra tips on how you can protect privacy in your apps.

This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.