FPF Issues Statement on California Mobile Application Agreement


Statement from Future of Privacy Forum Director Jules Polonetsky:

“We commend California Attorney General Kamala Harris and her staff for reaching this agreement among the major application platforms.

Apps can only provide innovative services to consumers if they use personal information responsibly.  If apps surprise consumers by grabbing information that isn’t needed or by surprising consumers, they risk losing access to user data. The California agreement will ensure that consumers are protected and that the app environment continues to flourish.

Providing a privacy policy is only the first step for app developers, however, it is an essential first step.  Unless an app company documents its practices and figures out how data is actually being used, its staff has no chance of complying with any set of rules.  Previous Future of Privacy Forum app privacy surveys have shown that only one third of apps today provide users with any type of privacy policy.

Although the primary responsibility for app privacy should be with the app companies themselves, app platforms can play a key role in helping engage and educate developers.  For a long time the developer excuse was that they didn’t have the resources, the legal support or the time.  Today, with resources like our site,  ApplicationPrivacy.org, and privacy policy generators provided by TRUSTe and PrivacyChoice.org, there is no excuse anymore for app developers not to provide consumers with privacy policies.

In December 2011 FPF together with CDT released a beta version of our “Best Practices for Mobile Application Developers”. The guidance seeks to serve as a primer for developers who are not necessarily privacy experts themselves.

On April 25, 2012 FPF together with the Application Developer Alliance (ADA) will host an App Developer Privacy Summit to discuss “The Complex App Ecosystem.” The event 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.”