An Update on Mobile App Privacy

By: Kate L. Bechen

Privacy should be on every mobile app developer’s mind. In September of this year the Federal Trade Commission issued privacy guidance to mobile app developers. The FTC’s guidance focused on eight primary areas of concern and suggested that additional oversight of the mobile app market could be expected.

More recently, on October 30, the Attorney General of California issued a press release regarding a letter her office sent to nearly one hundred mobile app developers, notifying them they were not compliant with the California Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). According to the letter, developers have thirty days to comply with COPPA, or face fines up to $2,500 per download. COPPA applies based on the location of the consumer, not developer, so a Wisconsin-based developer could run afoul of COPPA simply by having a California consumer download an app that doesn’t meet the privacy standards of COPPA.

On the federal level, industry stakeholders met this past Wednesday, November 7, to discuss mobile app privacy. The general consensus of this White House backed group was that a short form privacy notice was necessary for mobile apps. The content of the short-form privacy notice was not something the group could reach a consensus on and therefore, will be the subject of future meetings. The November 7 meeting was the fifth meeting by this group since July.

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