Finding the right balance between providing consumers targeted and offers while still respecting their privacy is ongoing battle for mobile marketers. Now, the The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s chief privacy agency, has issued a staff report recommending ways that key players in the rapidly expanding mobile marketplace can better inform consumers about their data practices.
The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations. Most of the recommendations involve making sure that consumers get timely, easy-to-understand disclosures about what data they collect and how the data is used.
“The mobile world is expanding and innovating at breathtaking speed, allowing consumers to do things that would have been hard to imagine only a few years ago,” said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. “These best practices will help to safeguard consumer privacy and build trust in the mobile marketplace, ensuring that the market can continue to thrive.”
The FTC staff report is based on the FTC’s enforcement and policy experience with mobile issues and a May 2012 FTC workshop, which brought together representatives from industry, trade associations, academia, and consumer privacy groups to explore privacy disclosures on mobile devices.
The report states that mobile technology raises unique privacy concerns. More than other types of technology, mobile devices are typically personal to an individual, almost always on, and with the user. This can facilitate unprecedented amounts of data collection. In addition, since a single mobile device can facilitate data collection and sharing among many entities, consumers may wonder where they should turn if they have questions about their privacy.
Among the FTC's recommendations, mobile platforms were advised to obtain affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation,consider developing a "dashboard" approach to enable consumers to review what content is being accessed by thei apps and considering showing consum