Tracking the Push for Privacy - As Critics Call on Mobile Applications to Include Privacy Policies, Developers Should Be Aware of Compliance and Risk

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Recent controversy about the tracking capabilities of mobile software, including apps provided by Apple and Google, highlights the increased push for privacy policies covering mobile applications. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s privacy subcommittee, recently sent a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google asking them to require “clear and understandable” privacy policies for all applications in the Apple App Store and Android App Market. Currently, neither company proactively enforces a requirement for apps to include these policies.

Senator Franken’s letter cites a study by TRUSTe and Harris Interactive that found less than 20 percent of the top free mobile applications link to a privacy policy. The effort to expand the use of mobile privacy policies follows increased scrutiny of online privacy policies by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In December 2010, the FTC released a privacy report criticizing privacy policies as overly lengthy and difficult for consumers to understand.

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