Facebook joins privacy agreement with Calif. AG

By Bryan Cohen | Jun 27, 2012


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced on Friday that Facebook has signed the Joint Statement of Principals to strengthen consumer privacy protections worldwide for users of online applications.

Facebook is the seventh company to sign the agreement, which extends the limits of California's privacy protections beyond mobile apps on tablets, smart phones and other electronic devices to include social apps. The apps in Facebook's App Center are used by millions of consumers every day.

The agreement is meant to improve compliance with state law requiring apps that collect personal information to contain a privacy policy.

"Consumers deserve to be able to make informed choices about how much personal information they want to sharewith others when using social apps," Harris said. "We are delighted that Facebook has joined Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research in Motion to provide consumers with greater control and information about how their personal data is used. We need to protect privacy while we foster innovation."

The agreement was first announced in February and was signed by Research in Motion Limited, Microsoft Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Amazon.com. Harris began working with the six companies in 2011 to create the joint statement to make sure that emerging online technologies were in compliance with the state's Online Privacy Protection Act.

The act requires commercial website and online service operators who collect personal information about California residents to conspicuously post a privacy policy. Privacy policies promote transparency and give consumers a more informed control over their personal information.

"California law requires all operators of commercial websites and online services, including mobile and social apps, who collect personally identifiable information about Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy," Harris said.

"We are very pleased that Facebook has incorporated the principles into the design of the App Center and that Facebook requires, as a condition of participating in the App Center, that developers submit a link to a privacy policy. We are also pleased to see that Facebook is prominently displaying the link to an app's privacy policy in the App Center, and is implementing a means to report and remediate privacy issues."

Facebook will also participate in a multi-stakeholder Advisory Group on Mobile Privacy Practices convened by Harris's office and the California Office of Privacy Protection. The group is meant to create best practices for mobile privacy generally and to develop model mobile privacy policies.

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