Six of the largest companies in the mobile device market — including Apple Inc., Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Research In Motion Ltd. — have agreed to begin asking app developers who collect personal information to include privacy policies. Previously, such policies were required by websites, but it was unclear how the requirements applied to apps. Of course, most consumers just skip right over reading these policies and are completely unaware of what information is being collected.
In an interview, Ms. Harris said thatshe agreed most privacy policies are “absolutely beyond the understanding of the average person,” but that the six companies agreed in principle that app privacy policies “are going to be more clear and understandable.” She said simply requiring privacy policies would force app developers to think about what information they are requiring from consumers”Óand why. Moreover, she said, the policies would give her office the ability to prosecute app makers that took or used consumer information in ways that ran counter to them. “It is important that it creates a hook for enforcement that did not exist before, which is the only hook that typically exists for privacy enforcement in this country,” said Justin Brookman, the director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington. A study of 101 popular apps that was part of The Wall Street Journal’s “What They Know” series in late 2010 found that 56 of them transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way, while five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders. via Tech Giants Agree to Deal on Privacy Policies for Apps