Apple and Other Mobile App Distributors Agree to New Privacy Policy Notification Standards

apple security iconThe California Attorney General's office today announced that Apple, Google, and other companies running mobile app marketplaces have agreed to implement new standards for notifying users of privacy policies associated with apps offered in their stores. The provisions will require that developers of apps that collect personal information include privacy policies with their app sthat can be viewed directly from the store before downloading the apps themselves.

Attorney General Harris forged the agreement with six companies whose platforms comprise the majority of the mobile apps market: Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion. These platforms have agreed to privacy principles designed to bring the industry in line with a California law requiring mobile apps that collect personal information to have a privacy policy. The majority of mobile apps sold today do not contain a privacy policy.

Links to privacy policies will be in consistent locations within the App Store and other marketplaces, offering users the ability to view the policies at a glance. Developers who do not comply with these requirements can be charged under California law, and Apple and the other companies signing on to the agreement have pledged to educate developers about privacy policy requirements and help them to meet the standards.

Finally, the agreement requires that the companies provide simple methods for users to report apps that do not comply with privacy requirements, as well as systems for dealing with those reports.

Following publicity about location-tracking and privacy on mobile devices last year, U.S. Senator Al Franken sent letters to Apple and Google specifically asking if they would be willing to require clear privacy policies for apps distributed through their stores.

Apple's Bud Tribble had noted during a Senate hearing on mobile privacy that privacy policies from developers would not go far enough in protecting users' information, arguing that Apple's own efforts to provide visual indicators of information sharing such as an icon becoming visible when the user's location is being transmitted are more effective at policing privacy issues.

Top Rated Comments

Starship77 Avatar
117 months ago
That's the problem, no one reads the privacy policy. The "sharing location" icon works much better. They should have something similar for apps that use other information like your contacts, etc...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
geofffitch Avatar
117 months ago
Great, legalese to the rescue

I can't believe this is seen as an answer to anything - a link to pages of legalese in which some important information is buried. When will we have some real privacy regulation in this country?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Menopause Avatar
117 months ago
On an unrelated topic: who else is dying to see some new iPad 3 rumors/news? :)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Peace Avatar
117 months ago
So. Basically this new standard just tells devs to include a statement that they are collecting your address book but there is still no way to disable it. It's either use my app and I collect you address book or don't use my app.

:confused:
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thewitt Avatar
117 months ago
The iOS API update will require you to give permission for an app to access your address book, just as it does with location data today.

The Privacy Policy is for the LAWYERS, not for the USERS. It's a knee jerk reaction and new legislation because we somehow keep electing lawyers to public office - and lawyers make laws... Every problem solution requires a new law and associated hoop jumping.

No one will read the Privacy Policies. It's just another Accept button to press during the purchase process.

It also is not required to give Apple teeth to dump a developer - they have that today. It will make it easier for lawyers to file against a developer in violation though, and after all, the guys we elect as politicians need to keep their law offices busy filing those class action suits...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ObjectiveV Avatar
117 months ago
Hewlett-Packard?

Edit: Forgot about the TouchPad. That's kind of sad actually.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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