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Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Microsoft Corporation, and Research in Motion Limited. (the Mobile App Operators) – announced an ...
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MARCH 2012

ADVERTISING, MARKETING & PROMOTIONS

>> ALERT MOBILE APP OPERATORS ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT WITH CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL In response to consumer privacy concerns, the leading operators of mobile application platforms – Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Microsoft Corporation, and Research in Motion Limited (the Mobile App Operators) – announced an agreement with the California Attorney General setting forth improved privacy protections for app users. The Mobile App Operators agreed to privacy principles that are designed to bring the industry in line with a California law requiring mobile apps that collect personal information to post a privacy policy (a notable development, given the fact the majority of mobile apps today do not contain a privacy policy). The agreement will also give consumers the opportunity to review an app’s privacy policy before downloading the app. Developers who fail to comply with their stated privacy policies could be prosecuted under California’s Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law.

MOBILE APP OPERATORS’ PRIVACY PRINCIPLES The agreement between the Mobile App Operators and the California Attorney General includes the following five principles: 1) Where required by applicable law, an app that collects personal data from a user must conspicuously post a privacy policy or other

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statement in a consistent location describing the app’s privacy practices which must include “clear and complete information regarding how personal data is collected, used and shared.” 2) The application submission process for new or updated apps will include either (a) an optional data field for a hyperlink to the app’s privacy policy or a statement describing the app’s privacy practices, or (b) an optional data field for the text of the app’s privacy policy or a statement describing the app’s privacy practices. For developers who choose to submit a hyperlink or text in the available data field, the Mobile App Operators will enable users to access the hyperlink or text from the mobile application store. 3) Users will have a means to report to the Mobile App Operators the apps that do not comply with applicable terms of service and/or laws.

THE BOTTOM LINE Given the astounding rate of growth of mobile apps, it is not surprising that regulators are focusing on the privacy issues raised by such apps. In light of current regulatory scrutiny at both the state and federal level, the mobile app industry must pay special attention to developments in this area.

4) The Mobile App Operators will implement a process to respond to reported instances of noncompliance with applicable terms of service and/or laws, although any action they take will not bar regulators from pursuing a developer for allegedly violating applicable law, including California’s Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law. >> continues on next page

MARCH 2012

ADVERTISING, MARKETING & PROMOTIONS >> ALERT 5) The Mobile App Operators and the California Attorney General will continue developing best practices for mobile privacy in general and model mobile privacy policies in particular. While no time table has been set for implementation, the California Attorney General will meet with the Mobile App Operators in six months to assess privacy practices in the mobile space.

FTC REPORT ON MOBILE APPS FOR KIDS The Mobile App Operators’ announcement comes on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) report, Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures are Disappointing (Mobile Apps for Kids Report), which evaluated the lack of privacy information available to parents before downloading mobile apps for their children. The Mobile Apps for Kids Report made the following recommendations for protecting children’s privacy in the mobile app space: 1) All members of the “kids app ecosystem” – stores, developers, and third parties providing services –