GSMA Publishes First Comprehensive Survey of Latin American Consumer Attitudes to Mobile Privacy

Bogota, Colombia: The GSMA today announced research exploring the impact of privacy concerns on the adoption of mobile apps and services in Latin America. The study of 4,500 mobile users across Brazil, Colombia and Mexico shows that a lack of trust in how personal data is collected and shared is acting as a barrier to the widespread take-up of mobile apps in Latin America, a market that globally is worth US$29 billion and growing at 36 per cent per annum1.

Risk to Market Growth
The study shows that consumers want better privacy safeguards to be put in place and believe that mobile operators are the natural guardians of their privacy on mobile devices:

  • Eighty-eight per cent of mobile app users are concerned that apps might collect personal information without their consent;
  • Half of those consumers with concerns would limit their use of apps unless better safeguards are put in place; and
  • Sixty per cent of respondents would turn to their mobile operator if they suffered a serious invasion of privacy while using an app, regardless of who was responsible. Whereas only 31 per cent would turn to their app store and 34 per cent would go direct to the app developer.

Without taking action to protect consumer privacy, Latin America risks falling behind other parts of the world in the adoption of new mobile services. Mobile operators recognise the need to work closely with governments and wider industry to address these issues. They are calling on policymakers to increase their level of engagement with the mobile ecosystem as new consumer protection laws are being drafted.

“It’s not the case that legislators can simply cut and paste old-world data protection rules into the modern mobile apps market,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer at the GSMA. “They need to consider solutions that reflect the new market realities, such as the privacy icons currently being developed in the USA2, which will provide consumers with simple ways to understand their privacy choices and control their data.”

Concerns over Location Based Services
The survey also highlights consumer concerns regarding location data. 92 per cent of respondents want to be asked permission to share their location with a service or an app. However, 47 per cent of the most popular apps transmit the phone’s unique device identity to other companies without users’ awareness or consent3. A further 74 per cent of those using location services regularly are concerned that their location was being shared with third parties without their permission.

Unless these services are provided directly by mobile operators, these concerns can be very real due to the fact that different laws and regulations apply. Mobile operators have tight restrictions on the use of location information, whereas services provided by internet companies have no such restrictions.

“The rules regarding location privacy need to apply equally to all the different players who offer such services. Today this lack of consistency is putting consumers’ data at risk,” continued Phillips. “In markets across Latin America, new privacy laws are being developed. The GSMA calls on governments to ensure that all new legislation applies equally to all industry players.”

The research was conducted by Futuresight Ltd. on behalf of GSMA. It builds on previous studies in Spain, UK and Singapore and the GSMA’s ongoing work to help establish industry guidelines and approaches that address consumer concerns on mobile privacy and foster confidence and trust for mobile users.

To see the full survey results from across Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, visit:


Notes to Editors
1Source: Strategy Analytics, 2012

2Find out more at the App Trust Project ( and other initiatives under the National Telecommunications Informational Administration’s mobile app transparency programme:

3Source: Wall Street Journal:

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries and territories, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.
For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at

Media Contact:
For the GSMA:
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