FTC releases long list of mobile privacy recommendations

Eric Abent - Feb 1, 2013
FTC releases long list of mobile privacy recommendations

As smartphones and the apps we run on them become more and more popular, concerns over privacy are growing as well. The FTC has taken a pretty strong stance on privacy issues throughout the years, and today it delivered a list of recommendations to pretty much everyone involved in the smartphone business. These recommendations give platform holders, app developers, and advertisers suggestions on what they can do improve mobile privacy, and we have to say that there are some pretty good ideas in the report.

Starting right off with mobile platforms, some of the things the FTC recommends include providing “just-in-time” disclosures and asking for a user’s “affirmative express consent” before allowing apps to access sensitive information. It would also like to see mobile platforms require app makers to make privacy discloses, and recommends an icon or something similar that can show when user data is being transmitted. One of the most intriguing recommendations is a “Do Not Track” list users can add their name to, saying they don’t want to be tracked by ad networks as they use apps.

On the app developer side of things, the FTC would like to see privacy policies that are accessible via app store listings, along with more just-in-time disclosures when an app is about to collect data. The FTC also recommends that app developers join self-regulatory programs that can help them make privacy policies that are clear and easy for users to read. The list of recommendations for app developers is quite a bit shorter than the list for mobile platforms, with the FTC clearly thinking that most of these privacy concerns can be solved by platform holders.

While mobile platforms and app developers play a big part in privacy concerns, there’s also advertising networks to worry about. The FTC suggests that ad networks and other third-parties work with app developers to make sure users are seeing truthful privacy disclosures. The organization is also pushing for advertising networks to implement the aforementioned Do Not Track list and make it work.

The FTC “strongly encourages” everyone in the mobile space to begin following these recommendations, but whether or not developers, mobile platforms, and ad networks will listen is another story entirely. The FTC makes some good recommendations in its report, but in the end, they don’t mean much if the parties at the heart of the privacy debate don’t follow them. There are more recommendations other than the ones mentioned here, so if you have a moment to read through the entire thing, you can find the FTC’s release through the source link below.

[via Federal Trade Commission]

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