California AG Issues Mobile Application Privacy Recommendations

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On January 10, California Attorney General Kamala Harris (AG) issued recommended privacy practices for mobile application developers, mobile application platform providers, mobile advertising networks, operating system developers, and mobile carriers. The AG recommends a “surprise minimization” approach, which could include measures to (i) avoid collecting personally identifiable data that are not needed for basic functionality, (ii) make an app’s general privacy policy easy to understand and available before download, and (iii) supplement a legally required general privacy policy with enhanced measures to alert users and give them control over data practices that are not related to an application’s basic functionality or that involve sensitive information.  Supplemental policies could include “special notices” delivered in context and “just-in-time,” or short privacy statements made readily available within an application and that highlight potentially unexpected practices and allow users to make privacy choices. The issuance of the recommendations is the latest action by the AG as part of a broader privacy initiative and follows the state’s first mobile application privacy suit filed last month.