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Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM sign privacy pact
TT Correspondent |  |  23 Feb 2012

These figures are expected to grow. An estimated 98 billion mobile applications will be downloaded by 2015, and the $6.8 billion market for mobile applications is expected to grow to $25 billion within four years.

 

The rapid growth and expansion in the mobile market exposes consumers to a wide variety of privacy invasions. Smartphones are often on and tethered to their user, transmitting rich data to the app developers. Users of mobile devices are vulnerable to privacy intrusion and abuse by numerous entities, app developers, analytic services and advertising networks. These entities could have access to sensitive information, including a user's location, contacts, identity, messages and photos. Without a privacy policy, what companies do with the personal data they collect is largely invisible to consumers.

 

It is estimated that a majority of the mobile apps currently available for download through the platforms do not include even the most basic privacy protection: a privacy policy setting forth how personal data is collected, used and shared. One recent study found that only 5 percent of all mobile apps have a privacy policy.

 

A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Mobile Apps are Disappointing, evaluated the lack of privacy information available to parents before downloading mobile apps for their children. The FTC report recommended that mobile apps platforms do more to help parents and kids by providing a consistent means for app developers to display information about their privacy practices. The FTC specifically recommended that the platforms provide a designated space for developers to disclose their information in the app stores and markets and that the platforms improve enforcement of requirements for app developers to disclose the private data they collect.

 

Attorney General Harris, in August, 2011, convened Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion as the most direct way to improve compliance with California law requiring that mobile apps have privacy policies. The platforms have committed to these principles today and are now working to implement them.

 

"California has a unique commitment to protecting the privacy of our residents. Our constitution directly guarantees a right to privacy, and we will defend it," added Attorney General Harris. "Forging this common statement of mobile privacy principles shows the power of collaboration -- among government, industry and consumers -- to create solutions to problems no one group can tackle alone."

 

Last year, Attorney General Harris also established an eCrime Unit to prosecute identity theft, data intrusions, and crimes involving the use of technology.

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23 Feb 2012(IST)  
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