• California Attorney General Reaches Agreement With Mobile Platform Providers
  • March 8, 2012 | Author: Stuart D. Levi
  • Law Firm: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP - New York Office
  • Since 2004, any operator of a commercial website or online service that collected information about California residents was required to conspicuously post its privacy policy. This state law, the California Online Privacy Protection Act (the California Privacy Act), effectively operated as a national requirement to include such a privacy policy since most sites that collect data also collect data from California residents. Last month, California took another important step in the national privacy debate when the California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, entered into a “Joint Statement of Principles” with the leading mobile platform operators. Although not legally binding, under the joint statement, these operators (Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and Research in Motion) agreed to privacy principles designed to ensure that the “app industry” conspicuously posts privacy policies with their apps where legally required to do so. It should be noted that, under the California Privacy Act, almost all apps developers would be required to do so; but few, in practice, comply with this requirement.

    Under the joint statement, the platform operators agreed that in the application submission process for a new or updated app, they will prompt app developers to provide the text of, or a link to, their policies. Once this text or link is provided, the mobile operators will make it accessible from the app store. Users also will be presented with the opportunity to report apps that don’t comply with their stated policies, and the platforms will develop a mechanism for responding to these reports.

    Through the joint statement, Harris has addressed the fact that many mobile apps lack privacy policies by targeting the platforms through which these apps are distributed to the public. The Joint Statement also represents an interesting use of an industry code of conduct to help drive compliance with an existing piece of legislation.