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FTC's New Privacy Guidelines Target Mobile Apps

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on September 26, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Online privacy is an ongoing issue but new Federal Trade Commission privacy guidelines show that the agency is taking these concerns seriously.

The guidelines were published on September 5, but they've been in the works for a while. They target mobile application developers but they apply to any company that plans to supplement its existing business with an app.

The new guidelines put the burden on companies to ensure that their privacy policies are sufficient and that consumer information is safe.

You can easily read the guidelines for yourself but the interesting part is where the FTC is putting its emphasis. It's no coincidence that a large number of the new guidelines deal with privacy policies.

The guide is clear that a privacy policy should be targeted at consumers. They should be able to easily read and understand the policy, meaning legalese should be kept to a minimum or at least translated. Companies must notify consumers when there are updates.

There's also an emphasis on how companies collect information. The guidelines generally favor collecting less information when possible and getting customer permission before taking any private data.

It asks that companies know their audience and tailor their privacy settings to that base.

That could mean your company needs to overhaul its privacy policy or reconsider its foray into online commerce. FTC guidelines aren't necessarily rules but they show what direction the agency is heading in.

It's also clear that FTC guidelines have some real teeth. The recent ruling against Google shows that the agency isn't playing around when it comes to privacy.

More companies are now moving into the mobile apps market but that doesn't mean they are always prepared for the increased regulation that goes along with online commerce. Use these guidelines as a way to broach the subject and keep your company safe.

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