More than a quarter (28 per cent) of the top 100 free apps available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play do not have a privacy policy, according to research by trade association MEF.

The research found that 45 per cent of the top titles do not offer the opportunity to read a privacy policy prior to download, meaning consumers are unable to make an informed decision before apps are installed on their device.

In addition, just 31 per cent offered access to a privacy policy within the app, rather than redirecting to an online version.

Privacy information also needs to be more consumer-friendly: 69 per cent of privacy policies are more than 750 words, and the average of 3,068 words takes 12 minutes to read.

With consumers interacting with apps for just a few minutes at a time, MEF said it is unrealistic to expect them to engage with privacy policies that are so long.

MEF senior advisor on policy and initiatives, Simon Bates, said consumers must be able to make informed decisions about whether to download apps and should be able to access the privacy policy once they are installed.

And consumers are clearly concerned with MEF’s Global Privacy Report from earlier this year revealing that 70 per cent of consumers feel it is important to know exactly what personal information is being collected and shared.

“It is essential developers are transparent. Privacy policies should be accessible, brief and easy to understand,” said Bates.