FTC IS TARGETING PRIVACY ON MOBILE DEVICES
Earlier this month the Federal Trade Commission released a set of non binding recommendations for the mobile industry to strengthen its privacy controls and allow consumers to opt out of being tracked by ad networks on their smartphones.
FTC regulators want the mobile industry to obtain consumers’ permission to tract their location and access other personal information on their mobile phones. Mobile app makers should also consider using icons to depict what types of data they collect from mobile users, rather than just fine print. These recommendations will affect not only large technology companies such as Google and Microsoft but also smaller application makers. While many companies have already adopted some of the suggestions voluntarily, regulators have already sanctioned app makers in the past for privacy violations.
For instance, the commission also announced an $800,000 settlement with Path Inc., the maker of a popular social-networking app, for collecting personal data on child users without their parents’ consent. Path also settled charges it mislead users of all ages by scraping information from smartphone address books without permission.
Mobile technology companies and their insurers should be fully aware that the FTC is placing more and more of an emphasis on personal privacy as millions of Americans now carry devices constantly connected to the internet. Once the FTC begins to regulate and sanction the mobile industry, civil actions by private individuals are likely not far behind.