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Inside Privacy Updates on Developments in Global Privacy & Data Security from Covington & Burling LLP

Study Finds Top Mobile Apps More Transparent About Privacy Practices

Posted in Advertising & Marketing, Mobile, Privacy Policies

According to a recent study released by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), the number of mobile apps with privacy policies has grown rapidly since September 2011. The study examined the top 25 free and 25 paid apps in the Apple iOS, Google Play, and Kindle Fire app stores, for a total of 150 apps. 

Of the apps reviewed, the study found that 69.3% of the free apps and 53.3% of the paid apps had privacy policies. This marked a significant improvement since FPF last conducted the study, which was more limited in scope.  

In addition, the study found that fewer apps today provide access to the privacy policy on the app store landing page (22.7% of free apps, 13.3% of paid apps) than they do from within the app itself or through a link provided within the app (48% of free apps, 32% of paid apps).  Some apps have begun to provide a short form notice that links to a more detailed privacy policy.

The rise in mobile app privacy policies may be attributable to increased attention by regulators at the federal and state level and various self-regulatory industry initiatives to improve mobile app transparency over the last several months.  (See, for example, our posts here, herehere, here, and here.)  While some of these efforts have focused on the process and format of app developers’ privacy policies, others are beginning to look at the substance of the disclosures and how the disclosures compare to the company’s actual practices.