The guidelines provide a helpful tool for informing app users of the type of information that the app obtains and how that information is used, with sections devoted to both user-provided data and automatically collected information. The guidelines also address the collection and use of “precise" real-time location information, an issue that has garnered much media attention (and increasing regulatory scrutiny) due to the popularity of new location-based services. Finally, the guidelines also address other critical app areas, including:
- Third-party access and use of consumer data;
- Advertising (including the use of mobile advertising networks);
- Consumer consent and opt-out rights;
- Data retention;
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) compliance;
- Security and confidentiality safeguards; and
- Future changes to the policy.
The guidelines are a response to data privacy and security concerns brought about by the skyrocketing consumer demand for and usage of apps, which have exploded in the last few years. For example, although the iTunes Store and Android Market only opened in 2008, today more than 1.2 million apps are currently available from multiple app stores on various operating systems. And consumers have downloaded more than 10 billion mobile apps to date.
Comments on the draft guidelines are due November 18, 2011. After that date, the guidelines will be finalized and released publicly.