By: Gigaom
February 22, 2012 at 18:34 PM EST
Mobile app companies agree to CA rules on privacy policies
Mobile privacy will still be a murky issue despite a new agreement between the state of California and six leading mobile companies over how best to help app developers comply with a California law requiring them to post a privacy policy.

California’s Attorney General announced a deal Wednesday with six major mobile apps companies that would require apps in their stores and on their platformsmartphone userss to post privacy policies detailing how they collect personal information before they are downloaded. The agreement comes as concern over how mobile companies use that information has grown.

Kamala Harris worked with Amazon, Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft, and Research in Motion on what appears to be a formal agreement to help app developers comply with an already existing California law that requires them to have privacy policies. The main change is that the six companies responsible for the vast majority of app downloads in the U.S. must now provide app developers with a way to link to an app’s privacy policy on their own Web sites or insert the text of the policy within the app. But the statement released by Harris’ office was “not intended to impose legally binding obligations on the (mobile companies).”

It’s hard to imagine the new agreement having too much of an effect on mobile privacy. Even if “the majority” of mobile apps lack privacy policies (per Harris’ office), the majority of those downloading apps blow right past those privacy policies in order to install their new toy. Those who do read the policies are in store for some of the finest legalese yet created as to hide as much as possible the notion that free apps depend on the collection of personal data. Having a policy is much better than not having a policy, but greater emphasis on making those policies easier to understand would be appreciated.

Harris’ agreement stops short of pinpointing specific uses of personal information that might harm consumers, but it does make it easier for app developers to post policies and for consumers to report violations of those policies, so it’s probably better than nothing. The AG’s press release said the parties will reconvene in six months, at which point there will likely have been yet another incident along the lines of Path’s address-book snafu that drew widespread attention.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.


Stock Market XML and JSON Data API provided by FinancialContent Services, Inc.
Nasdaq quotes delayed at least 15 minutes, all others at least 20 minutes.
Markets are closed on certain holidays. Stock Market Holiday List
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.
Press Release Service provided by PRConnect.
Stock quotes supplied by Six Financial
Postage Rates Bots go here