Better late then ever: a press release from the Italian Data Protection Authority advertises the data-protection oriented review of a certain number of apps.
This initiative should be a major concern for the (yet unaware) software industry, whose intellectual and industrial property might be endangered by a deep peep into its well protected secrets. Neither are clear the criteria that will lead to the app selection, nor whether or not the DPA will asks the developers for source code access.
Unless this IDPA investigation is just an empty PR stunt, it should be carried on by accessing the source code or reverse-engineering the executables: but doing so without signing NDAs and/or provide guarantees of non exploitation is an approach that the industry will likely reject.
Furthermore, if the software check will target only a certain kind of companies, leaving the other players of the same market safe from the scrutiny, this might be held as an unfair alteration of the market dynamics. And things might be much worse if the targeted companies are the smallest one, instead of the big fishes in the pond.
Mind, the lack of data-protection compliant programming isn’t a new or unforeseen issue – as the history of software can witness – but the IDPA never actually cared that much. For instance, it didn’t move a finger when back in 2002 ALCEI (a civil-rights Italian NGO) asked in vain the IDPA to check the claims of the existence of hidden features of a certain series of Telindus routers that posed significant threats to the users’ data protection.