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

World’s top consumer technology firms Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Hewlett-Packard  have agreed on Wednesday to provide greater privacy disclosures before users download applications in order to protect the personal data of millions of consumers. 

 

The agreement binds these firms and developers on their platforms to disclose how they use private data before an app may be downloaded, said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

 

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced an agreement committing the leading operators of mobile application platforms to improve privacy protections for millions of consumers around the globe who access the Internet through applications ("apps") on their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

 

Attorney General Harris forged the agreement with six companies whose platforms comprise the majority of the mobile apps market: Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion. These platforms have agreed to privacy principles designed to bring the industry in line with a California law requiring mobile apps that collect personal information to have a privacy policy. The majority of mobile apps sold today do not contain a privacy policy.

 

"Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is," said Attorney General Harris.

 

"This agreement strengthens the privacy protections of California consumers and of millions of people around the globe who use mobile apps," Attorney General Harris continued. "By ensuring that mobile apps have privacy policies, we create more transparency and give mobile users more informed control over who accesses their personal information and how it is used."

 

Privacy policies are an important safeguard for consumers. Privacy policies promote transparency in how companies collect, use and share personal information. The agreement with the platforms is designed to ensure that mobile apps comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. The Act requires operators of commercial web sites and online services, including mobile apps, who collect personally identifiable information about Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy.

 

This agreement will allow consumers the opportunity to review an app's privacy policy before they download the app rather than after, and will offer consumers a consistent location for an app's privacy policy on the application-download screen. If developers do not comply with their stated privacy policies, they can be prosecuted under California's Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law.

 

The agreement further commits the platforms to educate developers about their obligations to respect consumer privacy and to disclose to consumers what private information they collect, how they use the information, and with whom they share it. The platforms will also work to improve compliance with privacy laws by giving users tools to report non-compliant apps and committing companies to implement processes to respond to these reports.

 

In six months, Attorney General Harris will convene the mobile application platforms to assess privacy in the mobile space.

 

There are more than 50,000 individual developers who have created the mobile apps currently available for download on the leading platforms. There are nearly 600,000 applications for sale in the Apple App Store alone, and another 400,000 for sale in Google's Android Market. These apps have been downloaded more than 35 billion times.

 

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23 Feb 2012(IST)  
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