Transparency, privacy in mobile code of conduct draft

Augmented reality The new mobile code of conduct draft would notify users when mobile apps share their information, such as GPS location. (Photo: Wikipedia)

It is common for mobile applications on smartphones to disclose user information to companies and advertisers. A new voluntary mobile code of conduct would tell users how and where their information is collected and shared by the app.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration on July 25 released the draft for the voluntary code of conduct.


Last June, NTIA said its goal of meeting with several privacy stakeholders was to establish more mobile application technology transparency. By creating a code of conduct, consumers will be informed of what companies are doing with their information they provide on mobile applications.

On Thursday, app developers and other business groups agreed to start using the notices on a trial basis for testing purposes. The notifications will tell users what type of data their app is collecting, such as browsing history, location information, financial information and health records. The notification will also reveal who is collecting and seeing that information.

“CTIA has been encouraged by the experience of parties working together in the multistakeholder process,” said Debbie Matties, vice president of privacy at CTIA. “While member companies will need to evaluate the final code thoroughly, CTIA supports company consideration of the draft code of conduct for voluntary adoption and support.”

The Software & Information Industry Association, the principal trade association for the software and digital content industries, voted in favor of the Short Form Notice Code of Conduct.

“With the passage of this code of conduct, consumers will have more information about how their data is being used by mobile apps, and a greater ability to protect their privacy,” Ken Wasch, SIIA president, said in a statement. “SIIA continues to strongly support the Obama administration’s commitment to creating voluntary privacy codes of conduct through multistakeholder collaboration, and we look forward to engaging in future initiatives to this end.”

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