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NTIA creates draft code of conduct for privacy in mobile apps

updated 01:15 pm EDT, Fri July 26, 2013

Code suggests providing notice of data usage, storage before installation

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has created a draft code of conduct for mobile apps. The draft, issued today by the telecoms adviser to the White House, aims to help consumers protect their privacy by asking developers and publishers to give notices for how data is being used and stored by the app.

The code, stemming from President Obama's request for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights according to The Next Web, is voluntary for developers to take part in, though the short warning notices could end up helping the public in trusting an app before allowing it access to the user's data in the first place. The draft has been written based on the feedback from privacy, consumer, and civil liberty groups, as well as statements from developers and publishers. This could have potentially prevented the claims by critics of mass data harvesting by Samsung with its recent Jay-Z album app if it had been in force at that time.

Developers are "encouraged to provide consumers with access to the short notice prior to download or purchase of the app," states the draft code. The notice must state what kinds of data are being collected, what data gets shared to third parties, the creator of the app, and a way for the user to access a long-form privacy policy for the app. There are exceptions, such as if the app takes "reasonable steps" to disassociate user identities with data before sharing with other companies, or if data is submitted openly and voluntarily by the user. While it could be suggested that existing app stores provide similar warnings before apps are installed or purchased, the code itself could help make the warnings much clearer to users, condensing them to a more readable format.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) supports the draft code as an "important step forward," though legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese complained about it taking a year to create, suggesting it "makes it clear that we need comprehensive privacy legislation in order to gain meaningful privacy protections for consumers."

The NTIA is likely to use feedback from developers and consumers to revise the draft code further.

by MacNN Staff



  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-13-09

    And under no conditions are you to state: "The NSA requires us to forward all information you enter to their system."

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