The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has announced that it will hold the first meeting in its long-awaited privacy multistakeholder process on July 12, 2012. According to NTIA, the goal will be "to develop a code of conduct to provide transparency in how companies providing applications and interactive services for mobile devices handle personal data."
Earlier this year, the White House released a "Blueprint" for improving consumer privacy, which outlined a multistakeholder process designed to produce voluntary, enforceable codes of conduct to implement a new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. NTIA sought comment on which issues to address via the multistakeholder process (and how the process itself should be structured), and more than 80 commenters responded — with many encouraging NTIA to focus on mobile application (app) privacy.
As NTIA’s announcement notes, "[m]obile app transparency is an important and definable area where consumers and businesses can receive substantial benefits from a code of conduct in a reasonable timeframe.
Mobile applications are socially and economically important, but mobile devices pose distinct consumer privacy challenges, such as disclosing relevant information on a small display. In addition, commenters noted that practices surrounding the disclosure of consumer data privacy practices do not appear to have kept pace with rapid developments in technology and business models. Although other possible topics were suggested and may be pursued in future multistakeholder convenings, the mobile app transparency topic presents a strong opportunity for stakeholders to reach consensus on a code of conduct in a reasonable timeframe.
NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling commented in a separate blog post that "[w]hen codes of conduct are developed and implemented, consumers will have clearer protections and businesses will have greater certainty. And maintaining consumer trust in the Internet will help ensure that it remains an engine for American innovation and economic growth."
The meeting will be the first in a series of NTIA-convened multistakeholder discussions on mobile app transparency. NTIA stated that the objectives of the first meeting will be to: 1) promote discussion among stakeholders by employing a structured, open process; and 2) provide a venue for stakeholders to agree on the schedule and format of future meetings. It will be held in Washington, D.C. beginning at 9:30 a.m., and stakeholders and other attendees are encouraged to express their intent to attend in person (or view the webcast) here.