New Mobile Privacy Requirements in Focus for App Summit

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Operators of major mobile application stores soon will require developers to provide privacy polices with their apps; when and how this process will take effect and other privacy issues will be on the minds of app developers at an upcoming application developer privacy summit scheduled for April 25, 2012 in San Francisco, sponsored by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Application Developers Alliance.

As regulatory scrutiny mounts over the use of data collected through mobile applications, the App Developer Privacy Summit is intended to help developers of applications, including location based apps, examine privacy challenges and review ways to ensure a trusted consumer environment for app markets. Location-based app builders certainly will be affected, but hyperlocal publishers, merchants and advertisers which distribute mobile applications may also have to comply with new privacy disclosures that major applications store will require from their developers.

Last month, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced  that app distributors such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Research in Motion and Hewlett-Packard have agreed to require developers to provide privacy policies for review by consumers. “The majority of mobile applications do not have privacy policies,” Ms. Harris told reporters, “and they’re required to have them.”  Ms. Harris stated that her office will convene with providers of applications marketplaces within six months to develop “best practices” for mobile privacy, which will include the requirement for privacy policy disclosure with app. Federal agencies also have magnified their scrutiny over mobile practices. The Federal Trade Commission released a survey of mobile applications and found that  neither the app stores nor the app developers “provide  the information parents need to determine what data is being collected from their children, how it is being shared, or who will have access to it.” Similarly, the Commerce Department similarly released its own “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.”

The summit “will examine the important privacy challenges and opportunities facing the app ecosystem and will include app developers, platforms, advertisers and privacy experts who will discuss how to ensure a trusted consumer environment for continued growth in the dynamic app market,” according to a statement released by the Future of Privacy Forum. Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, said representatives from the  FTC and the California Attorney General’s office are expected to speak and  participated at the Summit.

Brian Dengler is an attorney with Vorys Legal Counsel and journalist who covers legal issues in eMedia. He is a former vice-president of AOL, Inc., a former newspaperman, and an EMMY-winning TV journalist. He teaches new media issues as an adjunct at Kent State University and formerly at Otterbein University.