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

The Korean Herald reports that the Korea’s Communications Commission (KCC) has opened an investigation into Google’s rollout of its new privacy policy in that country.  The investigation reportedly will focus on whether the company has received sufficient consent to the changes to Google’s existing policy and whether Google is collecting more data than is required

Following a public comment period that began in March of this year, the Federal Trade Commission has accepted as final a settlement with Google relating to the social network “Buzz” product that was launched in 2010.  (For more details about the Buzz product and its launch see Inside Privacy’s prior post, here).  As the Commission’s press release states, “The settlement resolves charges that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when it launched its social network, Google Buzz . . . .”

The Commission voted 4-0  to approve the settlement, which imposes numerous requirements on Google, including:

Continue Reading Google Buzz FTC Settlement Accepted

Recently, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), a non-profit profit organization representing participants in the mobile marketing industry, released a privacy policy framework for mobile applications.  Although framed as a model privacy policy, the MMA Privacy and Advocacy Committee makes clear that the document is intended to be a “starting point” rather than a verbatim model.  Its hope is that the document will “encourage the mobile application developer community to continue to move consumer privacy interests forward.”

Continue Reading Mobile Marketing Association Releases Mobile Privacy Policy Framework

Speaking at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in Toronto, Commissioner Brill informed the audience that “We will soon be seeing some enforcement actions on [mobile] apps.”  Commissioner Brill emphasized that Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices, applies to mobile applications and criticized many app developers for

This week, Stanford Security Lab reported preliminary results from a platform it has been developing, a chief application of which is to detect various forms of third-party tracking in an automated manner.  According to researcher Jonathan Mayer’s release, which emphasizes that these are “preliminary findings from experimental software,” Stanford’s system has detected that over half of the companies tested that belong to the self-regulatory Network Advertising Initiative (“NAI”) group leave tracking cookies on users’ computers even after a user opts out of online behavioral targeting.  Importantly, though, NAI member companies are required by the NAI guidelines only to allow and abide by requests to opt out of behavioral ad targeting, and the guidelines do not contain commitments with respect to tracking.   This distinction between targeting and tracking has been the subject of increasing attention, including from the Federal Trade Commission.    

The preliminary study results also reportedly show that at least eight NAI members—including prominent networks such as 24/7 Real Media and Audience Science—commit in their privacy policies to stop tracking users following an opt-out request, but nonetheless leave tracking cookies in place.  Although the media and, increasingly, plaintiffs’ counsel can be quick to latch onto these types of reports, it will be critical to closely examine each company’s privacy policy language in the context of the company’s actual practices.

Continue Reading Preliminary Results Reported From Stanford “Tracking the Trackers” Study