1. FTC Pushes for Additional Mobile Privacy Protections

    The Federal Trade Commission continues to push for enhanced privacy protections. By speaking softly and carrying a big stick…

    On February 1, 2013, the agency spoke, releasing what is essentially a “privacy best practices” guide for the mobile app industry: Mobile Privacy Disclosures: Building Trust Through Transparency. From law firm Patton Boggs

    “The report … reviews the benefits and privacy risks of mobile technologies and recommends ways to inform consumers about data collection and access practices. [It] does not propose rules but provides ‘recommendations.’ Citing the rapid growth in mobile services and users’ growing privacy concerns, the report makes the following recommendations for four categories of industry participants: (1) platforms (i.e., mobile operating systems such as Apple and Google); (2) app developers; (3) third parties such as ad networks; and (4) app trade associations. It also recommends that carriers, handset manufacturers and chip makers review and carefully consider the recommendations.”

    Recommendations? Yes, but with the authority of the Federal Trade Commission all the same, because the agency does indeed carry a big stick. On the same day it released the Mobile Privacy Disclosures report, the FTC announced an $800,000 settlement with social networking app Path for violating consumer privacy. Law firm Reed Smith:

    “The FTC alleged that Path automatically collected users’ address book data from their mobile devices without disclosing that data collection. The FTC also alleged that Path allowed children under the age of 13 to register for their services and did not adequately disclose the service’s data collection practices, did not notify parents of the information the service collected from children under the age of 13, and did not obtain verifiable parental consent…

    The settlement requires Path to pay a civil penalty of $800,000 and establish and implement a comprehensive privacy program. Path agreed to comply with COPPA by disclosing its data collection from children, notifying parents of such data collection, and obtaining verifiable parental consent. In addition, Path is prohibited from using any of the data it collected on children, and must delete that data within 10 days of the agreement.”

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