Customer Experience News & Trends

New govt. guidelines for mobile apps: What companies need to know

Customers wanted mobile apps, and you delivered. Now the government wants to tell you how to run your app.

The focus of recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the California Attorney General is privacy.

While the FTC’s new Mobile Privacy Disclosures report is mainly aimed at app providers, app developers and mobile advertising networks, it has implications for any company that offers an app to its customers.

These aren’t mandates (yet), but the recommendations may help your company avoid legal issues or a bevy of customer questions and concerns over your mobile applications.

Before writing a privacy policy for your company’s mobile app, the FTC recommends companies consider these important questions and issues:

  • Is the data type necessary for the app’s basic function?
  • Is the data type necessary for business reasons?
  • How will the data be used?
  • Will the data be stored on the device?
  • If the data will be stored in servers, how long will it be retained?
  • Will the data be shared with third parties (including advertising networks and analytics companies)?
  • How will such third parties use the data?
  • Within the company, who will have access to the data?
  • Will the app access other parts of the mobile device?  If so, can users control such access by modifying permissions?

With  these questions as a guide, marketers and attorneys should be able to write an accurate policy that’s transparent to customers.

Also important, according to the FTC and California’s Attorney General office, the privacy policy should:

  • be available to customers before they download the app
  • be easily accessible once customers are inside the app
  • be optimized for mobile screens, and
  • provide supplemental just-in-time disclosures when the sensitive information is collected, used or shared.

For more on the guidelines, check out the FTC’s policy and the California Attorney General’s Privacy on the Go report.

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