MMA Issues Mobile App Privacy Guidelines/FTC Issues Warning Letters

In response to industry confusion on how promoters of mobile applications should deal with privacy issues, the Mobile Marketing Association recently released its Final Privacy Policy Guidelines for Mobile Apps. Key issues discussed include annotated guidance on core privacy principles and consumer-friendly language for developers to consider; ways to inform users on how data is obtained and used, guidance on security and confidentiality of information, and collection issues involving minors.

For example, MMA's guidance addresses information collection and use, collection of location-based data, third-party access, opt-out, length of data retention, and security issues. The new mobile application privacy policy follows a broader set of mobile advertising guidelines released late last year. While the trade association's guidelines are not binding law and are considered to only be a starting point, many look to MMA guidance as representative of best practices and their requirements are frequently included in contracts.

Following on the heels of the MMA's announcement, the FTC warned marketers of six mobile applications that provide background screening apps that they may be violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FTC warned the apps marketers that, if they have reason to believe the background reports they provide are being used for employment screening, housing, credit, or other similar purposes, they must comply with the Act.

Take away: Businesses who are offering downloadable mobile applications should review the MMA's guidance and privacy recommendations and seek to incorporate them into their practices. Moreover, developers and marketers must keep in mind that traditional laws relating to privacy and advertising issues apply to mobile marketing, even if it is a developing channel.

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