The privacy protection of mobile users is big problem these days, especially since many companies are finding loop holes to exploit and further use personal information for advertising and data collection. One area that needed to be updated was the mobile application privacy monitoring.
The Attorney General of California, Kamal Harris, revealed some surprising information about how mobile apps were taking advantage of users and extracting information. One such practice by mobile apps was to go through the user’s address book information and then use that without notifying or even requesting the permission of the user. After complains, concerns, and allegations began to pile up, something is finally being done.
In San Francisco, the California Attorney General got agreements from the biggest names in the mobile world. Companies like as Google, Apple, Microsoft, HP, Research In Motion (RIM), and even Amazon all agreed to help improve the privacy protection for users who download mobile apps.
Despite the Online Privacy Protection Act in California being one of the most strict privacy laws in the United States, mobile apps will now be forced to comply with it. Before, they had to follow no privacy protection laws but now they will be forced to provide consumers with more information on how the app will access the data and how it will operate. On top of that, they have to notify users before the app is even downloaded.
So what happens when an application doesn’t comply with the California law? On top of being prosecuted under the Unfair Competition Law or the False Advertising Law, they can also be fined with up to half a million dollars for each instance of the violation in the application. “If developers do not follow the privacy policies we will sue”, Kamal Harris promised.
Why is a California Law applied to all applications? If you are wondering this, then don’t worry because you weren’t alone. Apparently, Kamal Harris approached all six of the companies last year since she noticed that the apps weren’t complying with it. Apparently, there was some confusion amongst the companies themselves and they have just now started complying. Although Kamal Harris didn’t give an exact time frame for when the new privacy policies must be enacted in the apps and marketplaces, she did say that she would be checking back in six months to see the progression of the new requirements.
Unfortunately, it’s not just mobile apps that need to severely revise their privacy practices and policies, because big names like Twitter and Google have been misusing customer information as well. Within the next year or two we should see a drastic increase in privacy policies and regulations as the government tries to play catch up and regulate something that has been a growing issue for many years.