Telecoms industry regulator Ofcom has just noticed that there are things called “apps” and has decided that people might like to know about them.
“Apps are becoming an increasingly important way to communicate and access the internet through our phones, tablets and TVs”, explains the “Using apps safely and securely on your mobile phone” Guide (PDF, five pages, large text).
It was produced by Ofcom in association with the Information Commissioner's Office, the Competition and Markets Authority, PhonepayPlus and the Financial Conduct Authority. Which sounds like lots and lots of meetings led to this document.
We can only assume that at each of those meetings it was decided to make the document that little bit more patronising*, because the end result is off the scale.
The advice is reasonably solid: Don’t download from places which are not official app stores, be aware of what permissions you are granting, watch out for roaming and in-app costs, and there's a guide to app store ratings.
It’s surprising that even puritanical Apple has a 17+ rating. The mobile payment section is vague, but then going into details of payment mechanisims is beyond its scope and the advice to make sure there is a PIN on the phone is good enough.
Asking you to log out of payment apps, however, is naïve: banks are constantly telling us how convenient mobile money is and the last thing you want to have to do is log in every time you want to bonk for a cappuccino.
Quite how this whole thing fits in with Ofcom's remit is unclear. ®
*"patronising" is when you talk down to people.