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California attorney general sets mobile privacy benchmark

10 Jan 2013

California attorney general Kamala Harris has released a set of mobile app guidelines aimed at protecting consumer privacy.

The guidelines work as a set of recommendations for app developers to improve their privacy policies. Harris' guidance outlines both technical and strategic ways developers can correct worrisome privacy issues within the industry.

"Californians want to know what personal information their apps collect, how it is used and with whom it is shared," said Harris.

"To meet this need and keep pace with rapidly changing technology, these recommendations strike a responsible balance between protecting consumers' personal information and fostering the continued growth of the innovative app economy."

The attorney general's report offers advice including avoiding unneeded consumer data collection and simplifying privacy policies. Among the recommended guidance are tips like pre-planning data collection needs and using enhanced measures to inform users of apps privacy policies.

The report points out the need for developers to adapt their privacy policy communications to the smaller screens of smartphones.

For example, it recommends apps should offer short privacy alerts on top of the legally required privacy policy statement.

This isn't the first time the attorney general has brought app privacy issues to the forefront. Last October, she ordered 100 app developers to update their security policies within 30 days.

In February she also persuaded companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft to improve their privacy protection policies.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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