Free Apps and Privacy: a Modern Dilemma

Free Apps and Privacy: a Modern Dilemma

There’s a deep distrust of free apps these days, and rightfully so. If you can’t see where the money is coming from, it’s likely that gathering and selling your data is how the application is making money. Unfortunately, even when this isn’t the case, your data is often traded for services like analytics, that allow the app developer to get a sense of who’s using their app and how they’re using it.

We’ve taken steps to shield our users from all of that. We don’t sell your data, and we don’t trade your data for services. The Dream Drop is truly free and provided without compromising our users’ privacy. So how do we make money? The simple answer to that is we don’t. We value community over capital. We will, and do take donations, and those donations are appreciated, however this app is and will always be 100% free.

The service we’re providing does indeed cost both time and money, but to us, it’s worth the investment. After all, the internet was created with the fundamental ideal of sharing information and connecting people through this shared knowledge. Wikipedia is a rare example of how these ideals were intended to be put into practice. We’ll take the lead from them and where we can we’ll do better.

Here are the steps we’ve taken to make that happen:

  1. No tracking, ever, anywhere. As a community, we expect that you’ll let us know what we’re doing right and what needs to be improved. We don’t need to know how many users read this blog article, which site they were visiting before they came here, or where they went next. It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to us.
  2. No personal info. We don’t need your first and last name, your email address, your phone number, your gender identity or age. App developers need to get out of the habit of forcing users to provide personal information, when it’s not absolutely necessary.
  3. Clearly identify what’s being used/gathered and why. All applications and websites should make it perfectly clear, upfront, what information they’re using, and why they’re using it. For instance, The Dream Drop requires rough location data, but we never store the user’s exact location, and we make it clear during the signup, why that’s important and how and where that information is being stored.

With some luck and encouragement, perhaps more developers will lean towards the “less is more” approach when it comes to gathering, storing and sharing user data, especially in “free” apps.