MMA releases Mobile Application Privacy Policy guidelines for comment

The Mobile Marketing Association trade association issued its MMA Mobile Application Privacy Policy guidelines document for public comment, encouraging app developers as well as marketers, media companies, advertising agencies and technology enablers to read the proposed framework and submit their feedback before the comment period closes on Nov. 18. According to the MMA, the guidelines offer developers suggestions on core privacy principles and consumer-friendly language, methods for informing users about how data is obtained and used, and guidance on security and confidentiality of information. The organization adds that the guidelines are not intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution and should be customized to fit the needs of each company and each jurisdiction--the MMA also urges developers to consult with legal counsel prior to adapting the guidelines for their purposes. 

The MMA Mobile Application Privacy Policy was created by the MMA Privacy & Advocacy Committee in response to exploding interest in mobile apps among consumers and marketers alike: According to the MMA, more than 58 percent of U.S. mobile users express concerns that their personal data can be accessed by others. The committee is co-chaired by Alan Chapell, president of privacy and data collection firm Chapell & Associates, and Fran Maier, president of online privacy solutions provider TRUSTe.

The MMA Mobile Application Privacy Policy guidelines document follow roughly five months after U.S. Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.) sent letters to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) demanding that the companies' developer partners adopt formal privacy policies. "Unfortunately, neither of your companies requires that apps on your stores have a privacy policy. As a result, a significant portion, and potentially a majority of apps, on your stores lack privacy policies," Franken wrote in a letter dated May 25. "A recent study by TRUSTe and Harris Interactive found that only 19 percent of the top 340 free apps had a link to a privacy policy. A separate survey by the Wall Street Journal found that 45 of 101 top apps for iPhone and Android OS devices lacked privacy policies. And yet consumers say they want more privacy. They want more transparency and control about who is getting their information, how it is being used, and who it is being shared with."

Franken goes to admit that while requiring all apps to offer "a clear, understandable privacy policy" would not resolve most privacy concerns, "it would be a simple step that would provide users, privacy advocates and federal consumer protection authorities a minimum of information about what information an app will access and how that app will share that information with third parties." Franken's solution: Requiring all location-aware applications available for download from the App Store and/or Android Market to provide clear instructions indicating what location data is collected, how that information will be used and how it is shared with third parties.

For more:
- read this release

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