FTC’s New Rules for Advertising Mobile Apps

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The Federal Trade Commission has published a guidelines for advertising mobile applications. In general, the guidelines incorporate the FTC’s policies on truthful advertising and data privacy. On the advertising side, if you make objective claims about your app, then you will need proof support your claims. The proof necessary to support objective clams is competent and reliable evidence. And if your provides certain benefits such health and safety benefits, then you will need competent and reliable scientific evidence. This general requires the opinion of experts in the relevant field of the benefit your app claims to offer.

If a disclosure is necessary to make your objective claims accurate, then the disclosure needs to be clear and conspicuous. There is no specific rule on font size or type, but the disclosure should be in a font size and location where consumers will notice it. Don’t bury a disclosure in dense blocks of text or in hyperlinks.

If your app collects personal identifiable information (“PII”), one important disclosure will be your privacy policy. Your privacy policy should tell the consumer what PII you collect, how you use the PII, and what safe guards are in place to protect the PII. You should give consumers options relating to their PII (i.e., privacy settings and opt-outs) and make sure these options are conspicuously presented to a consumer. If you market your mobile app to European citizens, complying with the U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor Framework is something you should consider.

Last but not least, make sure you honor your privacy promises. Too often, mobile app developers will use a canned privacy policy and not consider whether the promises fit with the mobile app’s functionality. If there is an issue, the FTC and the courts will hold you to the promises you make to consumers.