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US Telecom Agency Drafts Code of Conduct for Mobile Apps

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In an effort to protect mobile users’ privacy, the US government’s National Telecommunications and Information Agency has drafted a so-called mobile apps code of conduct (via The Next Web). The draft is based on feedback the NTIA received from privacy, civil liberties and consumer advocates as well as app developers and publishers.

privacy

When the code reaches its final phase it will force publishers to provide consumers with “short-form” notices in multiple languages, informing them how the data collected by the app will be used.

As listed in the draft code of conducts, the NTIA states that “where practicable, app developers are encouraged to provide consumers with access to the short notice prior to download or purchase of the app.” It stresses that this process is entirely voluntary, but those app developers that comply must list in their short notice four things:

(a) the collection of types of data listed in SectionII.A whether or not consumers know that it is being collected;
(b) a means of accessing a long-form privacy policy, if any exists;
(c) the sharing of user-specific data, if any, with third-parties listed in Section II.B as defined below; and
(d) the identity of the entity providing the app.

There is a way for publishers to bypass the required short-notice and this is also drafted in the code: app developers/publishers can voluntarily inform the user through an open field.

The initiative aims to solve privacy concerns over private data collection. A recent Appthority reports claims that due to the volume of iOS apps available in the App Store, iOS developers are more likely to collect your data and pass it on since they are seeking to create an alternate revenue stream.

While the Appthority report can be debated, questions about the user’s privacy still await answers. But Apple is making great efforts to protect iOS users via its Privacy tab available in the Settings app.

It is worth noting here that the code will be applied on a voluntary basis. We can only hope that developers will adopt the measure when it is finalized.

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