ALM Properties, Inc.
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Mobile Phone and Tablet Users Getting Smart About App Privacy
A recent study by the Future of Privacy Forum found that developers of top-selling mobile apps were increasingly using privacy policies to cover how they use customer data. Now, the Federal Trade Commission is out with new guidance on what such policies should make clear to smartphone and tablet consumers.
57 percent of all app users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place for similar reasons.
The FTC guidance, Marketing Your Mobile App: Get It Right from the Start, makes seven recommendations related to privacy. Among them:
Build privacy considerations in from the start. The FTC calls this privacy by design. What does it mean? Incorporating privacy protections into your practices, limiting the information you collect, securely storing what you hold on to, and safely disposing of what you no longer need.
Be transparent about your data practices. For example, if you share information with another company, tell your users and give them information about that companys data practices.
The guidance references several enforcement actions the FTC has taken with regard to company policies. In recommending that app makers issue disclosures that are clear and conspicuous, the agency notes:
Generally, the law doesnt dictate a specific font or type size, but the FTC has taken action against companies that have buried important terms and conditions in long licensing agreements, in dense blocks of legal mumbo jumbo, or behind vague hyperlinks.
The agency also warns companies against breaking their privacy promises. It has gone after businesses that made broad statements about their privacy practices, but then failed to disclose the extent to which they collected or shared information with otherslike advertisers or other app developers, according to the guidance.
See also: "Mobile App Companies Posting More Privacy Policies," CorpCounsel, July 2012.