Yesterday California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced an agreement she forged among Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research in Motion to ensure that mobile device apps that collect personal information contain privacy policies.  The agreement is designed to ensure that mobile apps comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires operators of commercial websites and online services, including mobile apps, that collect personally identifiable information about Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy. 

Attorney General Harris first convened the parties to the agreement in August 2011, believing that working with these companies, whose platforms comprise the majority of the mobile apps market, would be the most direct way to ensure that mobile apps include privacy disclosures.  The new agreement commits the companies to:

  • Provide consumers with the opportunity to review an app’s privacy policy before purchasing and downloading an app.
  • Educate developers about their obligations to respect consumer privacy and to disclose to consumers what private information they collect, how they use the information, and with whom they share it.
  • Implement a means for users to report apps that do not comply with applicable terms of service and/or laws, as well as a process for responding to these reports of non-compliance.
  • Continue to work with the California Attorney General to develop best practices for mobile privacy and to reconvene within six months to evaluate privacy in the mobile space.