Calif. AG: Settlement has global consequences

By John O'Brien | Feb 23, 2012


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris says an agreement she reached Wednesday will strengthen privacy protections for users of mobile applications.

Six companies signed onto the agreement. They are Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion. Harris says they will be required to have a privacy policy on their apps that collect personal information.

Harris says the agreement will have global ramifications.

"This agreement strengthens the privacy protections of California consumers and of millions of people around the globe who use mobile apps," Harris said.

Consumer Watchdog, a consumer protection group, said the agreement was a positive step but did not go far enough.

"(T)rying to decipher what's going on through a privacy policy written by lawyers, paid by the word to obfuscate can be extremely frustrating," said John Simpson, the group's Privacy Project director.

"It's even more difficult on small hand-held devices. We need a simple, persistent way to send a message that a user doesn't want to be tracked. We need Do Not Track legislation."

The agreement also means consumers will be offered a consistent location for an app's privacy policy on the download screen.

There are nearly one million apps for sale combined in the Apple App Store and Google's Android Market. Harris says the agreement brings the company in line with California law.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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