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Sep
27
2011

Building Privacy Policies for Mobile Apps

Joanne Furtsch, CIPP, CIPP/C
Policy & Product Architect
@privacygeek

Studies have found, such as the one conducted by the Future of Privacy Forum, that the majority of top mobile apps do not have a privacy policy. Like web site operators starting out, mobile app developers most likely do not know where to begin in creating a privacy policy. First thing is app developers need to do is know their data collection and use practices. Once an app developer understands what type of data they or the third parties they partner with are collecting through their app, they are ready to build a privacy policy.

TRUSTe is developing a tool to help app developers to do just that. As part of its Privacy Policy Generator 3.0 initiative, TRUSTe has developed a set of questions, answers, and disclosure specific to mobile apps where the privacy policy output is optimized for viewing in a mobile device. Capitalizing on the design elements of its web site privacy policy generator, TRUSTe was able to adapt this to address privacy issues unique to the mobile space such as the collection and use of location data, whether it is precise location data or location information provided directly by the user. A demo version of the mobile app privacy policy generator can be found at TRUSTe Labs (click on Demo mobile).

What is unique about the mobile app privacy policy generator versus the web site privacy policy generator is the output – a visually appealing privacy policy design to be viewed on a mobile device. The privacy policy navigation elements take advantage of the capabilities provided through the platform, and commonly used by app developers making navigating the policy intuitive and easy-to-read. The goal is to make it easy for users to find the privacy related information they are looking for without having to scroll through a lot of screens or a single web page optimized for viewing from a computer.

TRUSTe is looking for feedback on the set of questions, answers, and disclosures it is making available through its privacy policy generator specific for mobile apps. Specifically we want feedback on:

  1. What is missing? Do additional questions or answer choices need to be added?
  2. What additional disclosures need to appear in the generated privacy policy?
  3. Is information consumers would be most concerned about easy to find?

To provide comments about the questions, answer selections, and generated disclosures contact Joanne Furtsch, Policy & Product Architect at jfurtsch at truste.com.

To provide comments about design elements and usability of the generator or the privacy policy contact Travis Pinnick, User Experience Designer at tpinnick at truste.com.

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