January 28, 2013
Intellectual Property, Internet & E-Commerce, Telecommunications Alerts

"Privacy on the Go" – California AG's Guidelines to Ensure Mobile Privacy Compliance
by Cyrus Wadia

   California Attorney General Kamala Harris released an official set of recommendations for mobile application privacy in her latest report, "Privacy on the Go."  Following a recent lawsuit against Delta Airlines for alleged violations of the California Online Privacy Protection Act, the guidelines are another step in the committed effort by the California AG's Office to protect consumers' online privacy rights.

   The 22-page advisory outlines best practices to ensure privacy compliance and encourage app developers and others to consider privacy practices in their initial design stages.  Some of the AG's highlighted recommendations include:

    For App Developers

  • Start with a data checklist to review the personally identifiable data your app could collect and use it to make decisions on your privacy practices.
  • Develop a privacy policy that is clear, accurate, and conspicuously accessible to users and potential users.
  • Use enhanced measures – “special notices” or the combination of a short privacy statement and privacy controls – to draw users’ attention to data practices that may be unexpected and to enable them to make meaningful choices. 

    For App Platform Providers
  • Make app privacy policies accessible from the app platform so that they may be reviewed before a user downloads an app.
  • Use the platform to educate users on mobile privacy.

    For Mobile Ad Networks
  • Avoid using out-of-app ads that are delivered by modifying browser settings or placing icons on the mobile desktop.
  • Have a privacy policy and provide it to the app developers who will enable the delivery of targeted ads through your network.
  • Move away from the use of interchangeable device-specific or temporary device identifiers. 

    For Operating System Developers
  • Develop global privacy settings that allow users to control the data and device features accessible to apps. 

    For Mobile Carriers
  • Leverage your ongoing relationship with mobile customers to educate them on mobile privacy and particularly on children’s privacy.


   With consumer privacy as a central focus in the Attorney General's enforcement policy, these recommended practices are meant to be used as guidance and do not change any laws or legal interpretations already in place.  "These recommendations strike a responsible balance between protecting consumers' personal information and fostering the continued growth of the innovative app economy," Harris said.

**Mr. Wadia recognizes Jewelyn Mendoza's assistance in the preparation of this alert.

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