Just days after the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of popular mobile phone applications have been transmitting information about users to third parties without consent, the Mobile Marketing Association has announced a plan to create privacy guidelines for mobile advertising. The Journal‘s article had quoted an MMA official as saying that “[i]n the world of mobile, there is no anonymity.”
The MMA’s announcement comes amid increasing scrutiny of the data practices of entities in the mobile advertising ecosystem. Earlier this year, a well-publicized study by researchers at Penn State, Duke, and Intel Labs found, among other things, that certain Android applications transmitted user location information to advertisers without first notifying the user of the transmission or obtaining consent. In addition, two lawsuits have been filed against Ringleader Digital, a mobile ad network, for allegedly using HTML5 software to track users without their knowledge or consent. The Journal‘s coverage of the privacy issues relating to applications will likely lead to more suits, just as many of its recent articles have spurred litigation.