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Launching an App? Post Your Privacy Policy

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Online privacy is a big issue for regulators, which means anyone building a mobile app needs to have a privacy policy so that users know where their personal information is going.

For app makers, privacy policies are nothing new, as federal regulators have been requiring them for a while. But individual states also regulate Internet privacy by making regulations about where and how developers should post their privacy policies so consumers can be informed.

Now California is going one step further by enforcing its privacy-policy regulations. So it's time to make sure you're following the rules.

Under California law, companies that build mobile applications for smartphones and tablets must conspicuously display their privacy policies.

The regulation also dictates what the policy should contain. At a minimum it must have information on:

  • How user data is collected,
  • What collected user data is used for, and
  • Where that data goes.

These regulations went into effect in 2004, and they affect any company with customers in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

An app's privacy policy must be posted on the company's website and mobile applications. Recently, the state began contacting businesses that don't comply with the law and threatened to fine them if they don't shape up, reports MediaPost News.

While state laws generally only affect state residents, in this case the law empowers California to penalize out-of-state companies that deal with California customers.

The rule is designed to protect California residents, which it does by giving them more information about their online privacy. Companies that do business in California implicitly agree to abide by California law.

That applies anytime your company does business in another state. If you're not sure that you're complying with rules in the states where your company does business, talk to an experienced business lawyer about what you can do to protect yourself.

Notices only just went out about California's app privacy policy. About 100 companies will receive them, after which they will have 30 days to comply with the law. If the privacy policies are posted by then, those companies can keep doing business in California without a problem.

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