On February 1, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a staff report providing guidance and promoting best practices to improve transparency throughout the mobile app ecosystem (the Report). The Report arose out of a panel discussion on transparency held at the FTC’s privacy workshop in May 2012. The Report is limited in scope, focusing on the topic of transparency as a means to providing consumer choice and promoting privacy.
Background. The Report comes amidst a variety of privacy-related activities by government and private entities in the mobile space. At the federal level, in February 2012, the White House released a nonbinding framework for the use and handling of personal data by private-sector entities in commercial settings, which included a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” and addressed privacy and disclosure issues concerning mobile apps. In July 2012, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) responded to the White House’s call to action by convening a multistakeholder group to draft an enforceable code of conduct on the topic of mobile app transparency.
At the state level, the California attorney general has been active in promoting consumer privacy in the mobile space. In January 2012, the California attorney general’s office released its own set of recommendations directed at the mobile app ecosystem, including app developers, app platform providers, mobile carriers, advertising networks and operating systems developers. These recommendations addressed a variety of issues, including adherence to the Fair Information Practice Principles (which includes transparency) and education of app developers and consumers.
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