Top Tech Companies Agree on Mobile Application Privacy Says California Attorney General

  on February 22 2012 11:50 PM

The world's top consumer technology firms have agreed to provide greater privacy disclosures in mobile applications before users download them in order to protect the personal data of millions of consumers, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said.

The agreement covers Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp. and Research In Motion, Harris said. Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is.

Currently 22 of the 30 most downloaded apps do not have privacy notices, she noted. Most consumers don't necessarily understand the expanse and breadth and depth of its uses and applications, she said. We have people who, without knowledge of its potential uses, are vulnerable. What we seek to do with this agreement is deal with that issue, she added.

While she praised the tech giants for their cooperation, she said her office is prepared to sue companies that do not comply with the law. The redesign is part of a broader agreement designed to bring mobile apps into compliance with California's Online Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1994. The law requires commercial Web sites or online services that collect personally identifiable information about consumers to clearly state the privacy policy that details the kinds of information gathered, the manner in which the information may be shared with other parties and also the procedure to make changes to their stored data.

This will give more information to the consumers so they understand how their personal and private information can be used and potentially manipulated, Harris said. Most mobile apps make no effort to inform users. Consumers should be informed what they're giving up before they download the app, she continued.

The six companies will need to redesign their app stores and marketplaces so that the text of the privacy policy for each app is visible on the store. The law will apply to every mobile app provided through the app stores of the six firms even though it is a state law.

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