Hey, smartphone makers: Why the heck aren’t you designing products with security features built-in?

A new report suggests that enhanced privacy protection should be the norm for mobile devices so that Canadians can be guarded from unknowingly distributing or granting access to their personal information when connecting to the internet through wi-fi, location-based services, etc.

Released by the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, the report encourages smartphone developers and software engineers to design products that have privacy protection pre-embedded, as opposed to testing devices for privacy after they are developed.

“It is far less costly and you can embed privacy as a default feature right into the code,” privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian told Postmedia News Tuesday.

Quoth The Province:

Not only do privacy breaches affect people, she said, they can harm a company’s brand and reputation by eroding consumers’ trust.

In addition, companies have to be more transparent and inform their customers of potential risks associated with a device or wireless service, she said.

“Consumers should also take responsibility but they have to be aware of the problem,” Ann told Postmedia.

Waterloo’s Research in Motion is perhaps the best example of mobile security with its roster of BlackBerry devices, but when it comes to wi-fi, does not employ any exceptional data defenses. Wi-fi remains a risky free-for-all for consumers seeking free internet access.