PhD Defense Verena Wottrich: Privacy protection and information disclosure in mobile apps

On June 13, Verena Wottrich successfully defended her dissertation “Privacy Exposed: Consumer Responses to Data Collection and Usage Practices of Mobile Apps”. 140 Promotie Verena WottrichVerena investigated users’ responses to data collection and usage practices of mobile apps. This is a very actual topic since mobile apps are increasingly jeopardizing consumer privacy by collecting, storing, and sharing personal information. Her dissertation examined (1) the status quo of privacy protection behavior, (2) the drivers of information disclosure, and (3) the consequences of information disclosure in the privacy-sensitive context of mobile apps. Results show that app users are currently not empowered and motivated to protect their privacy in apps, because they only have limited knowledge on the data collection and usage practices of apps, and they are only moderately concerned about their privacy. With respect to the drivers of information disclosure, this dissertation showed that app users engage in a privacy trade-off when downloading mobile apps. In this trade-off, the benefits (i.e., app value) trump the costs (i.e., intrusiveness, privacy concerns), meaning that mobile app users tend to trade their privacy for apps that are of value to them. Furthermore, in an online gaming context, customization features and brand trust increase information disclosure and brand attitude, but this influence is strongly conditioned by how concerned players are about their privacy. Finally, this dissertation shows that the data collection and usage practices of apps might have negative consequences for marketers, because the more information apps collect, the more negative users are. This holds for fictitious branded apps, but not for real branded apps. All in all, this dissertation provides important insights into consumers’ responses to data collection and usage practices of mobile apps.

The dissertation was supervised by Edith Smit (promotor) and Eva van Reijmersdal (co-promotor).

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