California Tech Giants Agree to Deal on Privacy Policies for Apps

Last week California Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, reached a significant agreement with six of the largest “mobile as a platform” companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion.

The agreement “is designed to ensure that mobile apps comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. The Act requires operators of commercial web sites and online services, including mobile apps, who collect personally identifiable information about Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy.”[1]

Below is a summary of the core principles put forth in the agreement:

  1. An application that collects data from the user must have a clear privacy policy, describing the data collection and usage practices
  2. During the app submission process, the “mobile as a platform” companies must provide a clear space for app developers to submit their privacy policies
  3. These companies will provide a mechanism for consumers to report those apps which do not have privacy policies
  4. The companies will work on creating a mechanism for reporting and responding to non-compliance of the above terms
  5. The companies will work closely with the CA Attorney General to develop and promote best practices as well as policies in the mobile privacy arena.

This step by a state agency is indicative of the current need to have some kind of regulation in the wholly unregulated and burgeoning territory of privacy and mobile apps. Those app developers who are in sync with the changing privacy environment will do well by adopting clear and coherent privacy policies clearly establishing their data collection practices and following those practices.

To learn more, read the full press release here. Additionally, The California Online Privacy Protection Act can be found here. Other useful articles about this agreement have been written by  The Wall Street JournalBloomberg NewsGigaOm and PR News Wire.

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