CALPIRG Applauds AG’s New Privacy Guidelines for Online Apps

Media Contacts
Jon Fox

CALPIRG Education Fund

San Francisco, CA — Earlier today, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced new privacy guidelines for mobile applications (“app”) developers. The new report, “Privacy on the Go: Recommendations for the Mobile Ecosystem”, addresses two main consumer privacy concerns — data collection and disclosure.

The new guidelines urge mobile app developers to be judicious in the data they collect while being mindful of user privacy. The guidelines put the spotlight on consumer privacy and specifically recommend that developers not collect unnecessary personal user data.

“As mobile apps become more popular on smart-phones and tablets, Californians are increasingly concerned about what personal information apps collect and how it is used,” said Jon Fox, consumer advocate with CALPIRG Education Fund. “Many apps unnecessarily collect huge amounts of personal user data — including phone numbers, friends’ contact information, social network activity, user age and GPS locations. Attorney General Harris’s new guidelines try to put a stop to this trend,” said Jon Fox.

In addition, the new guidelines call for easy-to-read privacy policy disclosures that provide consumers with an opportunity to understand what data is collected by the app. Finally, the report calls on mobile app platform providers such as Apple, Google and Amazon to make sure consumers can access app privacy policies before they download an app.

“Since many apps share user information with third parties, they may expose users to serious risk of identity and financial theft,” warned Jon Fox. “Consumers need access to simple and clear information in order to decide whether or not an app is safe and appropriate.”

“While in the past privacy policies were buried, the Attorney Generals’ new guidelines will help consumers make better informed decisions about which Apps to use based on their clear and upfront privacy policies,” said Jon Fox.

CALPIRG Education Fund recommends that app developers adopt the recommendations based on the Fair Information Practice Principles — a set of widely accepted principles for safeguarding individuals’ personal information. App developers should:

  • Transparency: Inform consumers about how you are using or transmitting user data.
  • Necessity: Don’t access more data than you need for the purpose of the app.
  • User-Control: Give consumers the fullest possible control over how their data is used.
  • Security: Use reasonable and up-to-date security protocols to safeguard data.




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The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Education Fund is a results-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.