On Feb. 22, 2012, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released a “Joint Statement of Principles”1 with smartphone industry leaders (Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion) to clarify privacy protections for users of mobile applications (“apps”). According to the Attorney General, the principles are designed to improve compliance with California's Online Privacy Protection Act (“the Act”).
The Joint Statement sets forth five non-binding “principles” that could help simplify the process for safeguarding consumer privacy:
3. Platform companies should implement a means for consumers to report apps that do not comply with applicable terms of service and/or laws
4. Platform companies should implement a process for responding to reported instances of non-compliance with applicable terms of service and/or laws. Any action taken with respect to such an application will not limit law enforcement or regulatory action for alleged violation of applicable law.
5. Platform companies should continue to work with the Attorney General to develop best practices for mobile privacy in general and model mobile privacy policies in particular. The Joint Statement also calls for the parties to convene to evaluate privacy in the mobile space and the utility of education programs regarding mobile privacy within six months.
The Joint Statement states that it is not intended to impose legally binding obligations. However, it also states that it does not affect existing obligations under the law, and comes amid scrutiny at the federal3 and state level regarding the adequacy of privacy disclosures in the industry generally. App developers and others affected by the Act should review their practices and determine whether their polices should be modified or updated.
This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.