Kamala Harris secures pact to protect mobile app users privacy

Leading operators of mobile application platforms has agreed to improve privacy protections for consumers around the globe.

Washington: Leading operators of mobile application platforms has agreed to improve privacy protections for consumers around the globe accessing the Internet through applications on their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
Courtesy, Indian American Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, these companies agreed to privacy principles designed to bring the industry in line with a California law requiring mobile applications (apps) that collect personal information to have a privacy policy.

The majority of mobile apps sold today do not contain a privacy policy.

These six companies whose platforms comprise the majority of the mobile apps market are Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion.

"Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is," Harris said.

"This agreement strengthens the privacy protections of California consumers and of millions of people around the globe who use mobile apps. By ensuring that mobile apps have privacy policies, we create more transparency and give mobile users more informed control over who accesses their personal information and how it is used," she added.

The agreement with the platforms is designed to ensure that mobile apps comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act, said the statement issued by the office of the Attorney General.

The Act requires operators of commercial websites and online services, including mobile apps, who collect personally identifiable information about Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy.

This agreement will allow consumers the opportunity to review an app`s privacy policy before they download the app rather than after, and will offer consumers a consistent location for an app`s privacy policy on the application- download screen.

If developers do not comply with their stated privacy policies, they can be prosecuted under California`s Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law.

The agreement further commits the platforms to educate developers about their obligations to respect consumer privacy and to disclose to consumers what private information they collect, how they use the information, and with whom they share it.

There are more than 50,000 individual developers who have created the mobile apps currently available for download on the leading platforms.

There are nearly 600,000 applications for sale in the Apple App Store alone, and another 400,000 for sale in Google`s Android Market.

These apps have been downloaded more than 35 billion times. These figures are expected to grow.

An estimated 98 billion mobile applications will be downloaded by 2015, and the USD 6.8 billion market for mobile applications is expected to grow to USD 25 billion within four years.