NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Many consumers have been unpleasantly surprised to find out how much of their personal information is captured by smartphone applications, but a new study highlights what should have been a red flag all along: the absence of any sort of privacy policy for many apps.

Of the 30 most popular paid apps across the three major smartphone platforms (iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones), just eight have any privacy policy, according to findings from the Future of Privacy Forum, a tech think tank based in Washington, D.C., while the vast majority fail to have even the most basic policy in place for consumers to read through.

Some of the apps that lack a privacy policy include big name smartphone games like Doodle God and Fruit Ninja, as well as more general apps like Javatek’s MP3 Ringtone Creator and Bare Apps’ Chat for Facebook Pro. Even one version of Angry Birds – arguably the most well-known game and mobile app – is called out for not having a privacy policy, though as the researchers note, in this particular case, the company itself has a privacy policy, just not one specific to the app.

As the group notes in its report, having a privacy policy should be more than just a formality, even if the apps on this list don’t actually collect sensitive user data.

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“Without a privacy policy to review, consumers may not have the ability to understand and control the use of their personal data by the apps,” the researchers write. “And although privacy policies should not be the only way companies communicate with users about data use, posting a privacy policy is the essential first step for companies to take to be accountable for their practices of collecting and using online data.”

We would argue that app developers go one step further, and not just have a privacy policy, but one that is brief and comprehensible to the average consumer. After all, Apple has a privacy policy too, but it’s so long most iPhone and iPad users failed to read it through, rendering it useless.

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