Tony Berman
Sr. Product Manager | TRUSTe

Mobile application privacy requirements continue to evolve in the right direction.

Last week the California Attorney General’s Office announced an agreement with app store operators (Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion ) to enforce compliance with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. This requires all apps that collect personal information to have clear privacy policies. Under the agreement, consumers will now be able to review an app’s privacy policy before they download it. Developers who do not comply can be prosecuted under California law.

This is a really positive development for consumer privacy in the mobile space. Displaying privacy policies up front will allow consumers to make informed decisions on the apps they purchase.   It removes the element of Russian Roulette when purchasing an app without first knowing the data privacy practices associated with that app.

As discussed in my previous post, creating a mobile privacy is not difficult and TRUSTe provides a simple way to create a mobile formatted privacy policy that is easy for consumers to read and understand.

Developers need to do 3 things to comply with this California law:

  1. Create  privacy policies for their applications
  2. Add the privacy policy link in their app store listing
  3. Add the privacy policy link in the app itself

If an app does not collect personal information it does not need to have a privacy policy to comply with this law. However, TRUSTe recommends that, even if no personal information is being collected, the app should still have a privacy policy. It’s just as important for consumers to understand what your app doesn’t do as it is to understand what it does do. Here’s a sample of what a mobile app privacy policy created by TRUSTe’s policy generator looks like:

Once a privacy policy has been created for an app, developers can go the extra mile and certify compliance with their stated privacy practices with TRUSTe. Doing so will allow them to take advantage of displaying the TRUSTe Certified Privacy seal along with their privacy policy in their app store listing to differentiate their apps from competing apps in the marketplace.