• The PrivacyGuard (PGuard) research project supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) seeks to improve personal data protection on mobile devices

• In future, smart phone and tablet users are to have access to information to better evaluate the use of their personal data and react accordingly

15 January 2016 – Today, work began on the PrivacyGuard (PGuard) research project initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The project sets out to develop simple technical means for consumers to identify data protection risks on mobile end devices.

As yet, many smart phone and tablet users suffer from a lack of information on how they can effectively protect their personal data from misuse. Mobile operating systems may provide details on an app’s access privileges before the app is installed, yet in everyday use it is almost impossible to identify how such access privileges are exercised, if data usage conforms with legal requirements, and whether it corresponds to the individual consumer’s personal ideas of data protection. Against this background, one aim of this interdisciplinary research project is to establish the basis for developing a website and app intended to provide consumers with a practical point of reference for decisions on whether to use a particular app or not.

Despite the broad popularity of smart phones and tablets, many users are concerned about data privacy. Over 60% of internet users rank the risk of their personal data being sold to third parties as high and 44% worry about electronic eavesdropping or spyware. Research by the consumer watchdog magazine Stiftung Warentest has shown that such concerns are not unfounded. In various tests, some apps clearly read far more data than needed for the concrete services offered, and such data might even include device identification, usage statistics or address books. Moreover, in some instances data was transmitted to third party companies without the user’s consent. Security risks are created when such data is neither anonymized nor encrypted for transmission, as also occurred in some cases of sending even very sensitive information such as passwords.

 

The PGuard project partners are:

SRIW (Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft e.V.) (www.sriw.de).

mediaTest digital GmbH (www.mediatest-digital.com).

Quadriga Hochschule Berlin GmbH (www.quadriga.eu).

Institut für Angewandte Informatik e.V. (www.infai.org).

 

More details: Download project description (in German)