Recent developments at the FTC and CFPB provide some guidance on how regulators may approach disclosures on smartphones and other mobile devices.
The recent CFPB Remittance Rule on international remittance transfers indicates some flexibility in the provision of disclosures in the remittances context via a mobile device. Additionally, the FTC’s recent report on best practices in consumer data privacy notes the difficulty in providing privacy notices on the smaller screens of mobile devices and encourages shorter, more effective privacy policies as a result.
These developments raise a series of questions for corporate counsel to consider when advising on the drafting and delivery of mobile disclosures. Specifically, questions include:
Is the length of the mobile disclosure document as brief and succinct as it can be? Does it use concrete, everyday words and the active voice? Do the disclosures avoid multiple negatives, technical jargon and ambiguous language?
Are the mobile disclosures presented in a logical sequence? Are they laid out in clear, concise sentences, paragraphs and sections? Are they placed in equal prominence to each other, absent any other specific regulatory format or placement requirements? Is the content placed on a particular page appropriate for the sizing of the page on the mobile screen? If not, are textual or visual cues used to encourage scrolling?
Does the mobile disclosure “call attention to itself?” Is it on a screen the mobile user must access or will likely access frequently? If not, is it behind a hyperlink on an introductory screen that is clearly labeled so as to convey the importance of the linked disclosure? Is it presented with a clear, visible heading and an easy-to-read typeface and typesize?
Have various technical and other applicable industry standards been consulted in the process of designing, developing and displaying mobile disclosures?
This post is adapted from the article, “Two agencies and various industry standards offer guideposts on mobile disclosure requirements” by Margo H.K. Tank and John A. Richards, originally published in the National Law Journal on April 11, 2012