Application developers have been put on notice by the State of California. It is time to pay attention to user privacy and collection of information from user devices.
In an effort led by the office of California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, the state has reached an agreement committing the six largest companies offering platforms for mobile applications (commonly referred to as “apps”) to a set of principles designed to ensure compliance with California’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The agreement with Apple Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Research In Motion Ltd., who collectively represent over 95% of the mobile application market, is significant for two reasons. First, it operates as an acknowledgement that California’s Online Privacy Protection Act applies to app developers as well as platform providers. Second, the agreement may effectively create a minimum standard for disclosures and transparency with regard to the collection of personal information by mobile applications. Because of the global nature of the Internet, the law will apply to every mobile app provided through the six firms’ app stores even though it is a state law.
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