NTIA Introduces Mobile App Code of Conduct For Privacy

The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) this week announced that its stakeholder partners for an app transparency process will soon begin testing a voluntary code of conduct for mobile app privacy. The code implores app developers to, “where practicable,” provide app users with short form notices about what data an app collects and who it will be shared with.

The image above is one of several examples the NTIA released to show how apps following the code might display such notices.

According to the code, notices should inform app users of data collection from the categories of biometrics; browser history; phone and text logs; contacts; financial information; health, medical, or therapy data; location data; and user files. The sharing notices should cover the categories of ad networks; carriers; consumer data resellers; data analytics providers; government entities; operating systems and platforms; other apps; and social networks.

“NTIA is pleased that today a diverse group of stakeholders reached a seminal milestone in the efforts to enhance consumer privacy on mobile devices,” said Lawrence Strickling, the NTIA administrator. “We encourage all the companies that participated in the discussion to move forward to test the code with their consumers. I want to congratulate all of the participants, who through their commitment and dedication have demonstrated the promise and importance of the multi-stakeholder policy-making process.”

Though Strickling’s statement shows the NTIA is proud to have provided a framework for disclosure in mobile apps, other privacy advocates are calling for stricter privacy measures. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this week called the NTIA’s code of conduct “modest,” and called on congress to pass “meaningful” consumer privacy protection legislation.

“The American Civil Liberties Union supports this code as a modest but important step forward for consumer privacy,” said Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “It allows applications to compete on privacy and gives consumers a tool to pick the most privacy friendly applications.

“The fact that it took a year to come to agreement on just this single measure, however, makes it clear that we need comprehensive privacy legislation in order to gain meaningful privacy protections for consumers. After all, we should be able to enjoy cool new technologies without giving up our privacy.”

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