MMA Releases Proposed Privacy Guidelines

As we’ve noted in previous posts and a recent webinar, the way companies collect information through mobile apps has been the focus of several FTC actions, Congressional hearings, proposed legislation, and at least ten class action lawsuits. In response to the confusion over how app developers should deal with privacy issues, the Mobile Marketing Association recently released guidance in the form of a proposed annotated privacy policy.

The proposed policy addresses several key areas, including: (a) what information is collected, and how it’s used; (b) whether the app collects location-based information; (c) whether third parties have access to any information; (d) whether the app works with third parties to deliver targeted ads; (e) whether consumers can opt-out of information collection or sharing; (f) how long information is retained; and (g) how that information is safeguarded. The MMA notes that additional provisions will be required if an app is directed to children under 13. Notably, the MMA does not discuss how the privacy policy should be disclosed.

The MMA states that the guidance is intended to provide a starting point for companies that develop apps, but that it should not be considered an ending point. Given the number of variables in this area, companies are strongly encouraged to consult an attorney before developing an app or drafting a privacy policy. The MMA is seeking public comment on the guidance until November 18, 2011.