FTC Wants Apple, Others to Improve Mobile Privacy

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a report calling on operating system providers such as Apple, BlackBerry, Google and Microsoft as well as app developers to better inform consumers about their data practices and provide easy to understand disclosures about how customer data is being used.

“The mobile world is expanding and innovating at breathtaking speed, allowing consumers to do things that would have been hard to imagine only a few years ago,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “These best practices will help to safeguard consumer privacy and build trust in the mobile marketplace, ensuring that the market can continue to thrive.”

The report reiterates that mobile technology raises "unique privacy concerns," and makes a host of recommendations. Notable for mobile platforms were:

  • Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded.
  • Consider developing icons to depict the transmission of user data.
  • Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.


The FTC went on to say, “FTC staff strongly encourages companies in the mobile ecosystem to work expeditiously to implement the recommendations in this report. Doing so likely will result in enhancing the consumer trust that is so vital to companies operating in the mobile environment."

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Several issues are at play here. The first is the apparent sense of entitlement device, OS and app makers have had to customer data. That sense of entitlement has heretofore generally gone unchallenged because the transmission of that data has been shrouded in secrecy. However, with increased international threats to our data infrastructure and a possible loss of trust, (Apple Loses Ranking as a Top 20 Most Trusted Company for Privacy) leading to economic woes, it may finally be time for the industry to think seriously about the larger economic picture. Or, else, as is usually the case, the U.S. Government will think about it for them.

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This is funny, given how hard the US is pressuring the EU to kill proposed EU legislation having to do with the privacy of customers [and not just mobile].

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