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As mobile devices become the platform of choice for everything from social networking to banking to travel arrangements, state and federal governments are scrambling to pass and enforce mobile privacy laws. There has been flurry of activity in the mobile privacy area, including recent litigation and policy efforts from the California attorney general’s office to address privacy in mobile apps, similar efforts by the Federal Trade Commission at the federal level, and related class action litigation.

California AG Targets Mobile Apps

The California attorney general’s office has recently filed the first of what may ultimately be a string of lawsuits against mobile app developers for alleged violations of the California Online Privacy Protection Act, or CalOPPA. The lawsuit alleges that Delta Airlines’ "Fly Delta" mobile app violates CalOPPA because it collects consumer’s personally identifiable information (PII), but does not "conspicuously post" its privacy policy. Enacted in 2003, CalOPPA applies to the operator of any website or online service that collects PII from California residents, regardless of whether the company operates in California. The statute requires a website owner to "conspicuously post" a privacy policy on its website or, in the case of an "online service," employ a "reasonably accessible means of making the privacy policy available for consumers of the online service." California Business & Professions Code §§22575(a) and 22577(b)(5). The AG’s office has interpreted "online service" to include mobile apps.

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