December 2, 2022
Let’s be honest: no one – or almost no one – reads the privacy statement when downloading the most popular and useful business apps. Who’s got time for that? And the stuff in there is all meaningless jargon, right?

Not quite.

Tucked away in these terms and conditions, you’ll find an explanation of what these apps do with your data. And some of them do a lot more with it than others.

But don’t panic. There’s no need to read all the privacy statements of the apps on your phone. Because OnDeck has done it for you. And they put all their findings into several charts ranking the most and least data-hungry business apps.

You’ll find a summary of the results below.

But first, let’s look at why apps collect your data and what they do once they have it.

Why do apps collect your data?

Apps collect your personal data for several reasons. They can use it to improve and update their services or recommend other products that might interest you.

In many cases, data collection is essential. Some apps wouldn’t work without it. After all, how can Google Maps point you in the right direction if it doesn’t know where you are at that moment?

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And yes, apps do sell and share your personal data to marketers, research organizations, and cold-calling firms that are borderline scammers.

So is data collection a good thing or a bad thing?

Data collection is like any other tool. It all depends on the intent. Think about a hammer. You can use it to build a house or smash all your neighbor’s windows.

Many data collection practices are benign. Some are even beneficial.

But data collection still gets a bad rap, and it’s easy to see why. Some of the biggest (and most trusted) companies in the world have been caught up in data collection scandals.

During the 2010s, personal data belonging to millions of Facebook users was collected without their consent by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. It was predominately used to influence voter behavior in elections and referendums, including the 2016 US presidential race and the UK’s Brexit referendum.

Not good (unless you’re the owner of Cambridge Analytica.)

Some of the scandals are even worse, and a few are downright disturbing. Facebook was (once again) busted for using people’s data and profile information to see how it could manipulate their emotions.

And there are those rumors. For years, there have been whispers that all the major tech companies have secret deals to give intelligence services access to your data. And it’s naive to dismiss this as just another ‘conspiracy theory.’

Over 80% of Palantir’s (a major data analytics firm) contracts are with US governmental departments, including the CIA and the NSA – who, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, admitted they’d been illegally spying on US citizens for years.

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Which apps should you delete first?

You’re probably scrolling through your phone, wondering what apps to ditch first. It would take hours – or maybe days – to go through all the privacy statements. And even then, you’d probably give up halfway through. They’re not the most exciting reads in the world.

Thankfully, OnDeck has done the hard work for you already.

The business apps that collect the most data

If you want to keep your info private, then – surprise, surprise – uninstall Facebook Messenger right now. If you use this communication app to talk with colleagues or arrange lunch meetings, you’re giving Facebook unlimited access to 32 segments of personal data. They include location, browsing history, financial info, sensitive info, and even data on your health and wellbeing.

Instagram is the next app that has to go. Instagram is great for marketing, but it also has a huge appetite for your data. It collects just as many data segments as Facebook.

PayPal is another big culprit. The finance and accounting business app starts scooping up 26 pieces of data as soon as you download it.

Privacy-focused business people should be wary of content and file management tool Google Drive. It collects your contact info, info on recent purchases, search history, and 15 other personal data segments.

What types of business apps collect the most data?

Marketing is about knowing what people want and when they want it. So it’s no shock that marketing apps are the hungriest types of business apps. On average, they collect 16.5 data segments.

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Finance and accounting apps come next (14 segments), followed by communication apps (11.3), and website and e-commerce apps (9.5 segments.)

At the other end of the scale, business intelligence apps are the least data-hungry apps in the OnDeck study. According to OnDeck’s research, business intelligence apps collect less than 5 (4.5) different pieces of personal data.

Some have rejected data collection altogether

The app for business intelligence and cloud-based services provider MicroStrategy collects zero data from its users. The firm’s Privacy Policy statement opens with this reassuring line: “We are not in the business of selling Personal Information about you to advertisers or spammers.”

Business apps that respect your privacy

Microstrategy isn’t the only business app that respects its user’s privacy.

Video conference app Webex Meeting doesn’t want your data. Three other business communication apps don’t believe in data collection. They are CallRail, Acefone, and 3XC.

Commander One and eFileCabinet might not have the same functionality as Google Drive. But they should be among the first alternatives for business professionals who’ve dumped Google Drive due to privacy concerns. Neither Commander One nor eFileCabinet is interested in a single piece of your private information.

It’s time to take back control. See a full breakdown of all the results in the infographics below. Then decide which apps to keep and which apps to delete.

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