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California Attorney General Notifies Developers Of Mobile Apps In Violation Of State Privacy Laws

Earlier this week, the State Of California Attorney General (AG), Kamala Harris, announced that her office had begun notifying mobile device app developers that were in violation of state privacy laws:

"The companies were given 30 days to conspicuously post a privacy policy within their app that informs users of what personally identifiable information about them is being collected and what will be done with that private information. Letters will be sent out to up to 100 non-compliant apps at this time, starting with those who have the most popular apps available on mobile platforms."

Last week, the California AG had notified United Airlines about its mobile app. Other companies warned include Delta Air Lines and OpenTable Inc..

The letters are part of enforcement of the California Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires operators of online services (e.g., mobile device apps and apps at social networking sites) that collect personally identifiable information from California residents to conspicuously post a privacy policy. Operators not in compliance face fines of up to $2,500 for each download of a non-compliant app.

Reportedly, non-compliant app developers and app store operators could also be prosecuted under the California Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law, with fines up to $500,000 per use of a non-compliant app.

This should not be a surprise, given the law and given the February 2012 global agreement between the California AG and several technology companies -- Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Amazon, and Research In Motion -- to require mobile app developers to post privacy policies.

This is really good news for consumers who have become increasingly reliant upon mobile devices. Past studies have documented sporadic and poor access to privacy policies by mobile device apps both before and after installation. Once again, California leads the way in protections for consumers.


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There have been lots of issues with mobile apps these days. Few cases also involves data stealing even while the mobile was kept switched off. Some strict norms are important.

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