The FTC has been focused on mobile apps and the legal issues they raise, and that focus continues to be shown by the most recent guidance from the FTC. Marketing Your Mobile App: Get it Right From the Start, offers guidance to app developers regarding what the FTC believes should be done to protect consumers in the mobile world.
The FTC clearly is speaking to smaller, as well as larger companies that use the mobile platforms to create apps, as the FTC clearly states up front its view that the guidance, and the relevant laws, are equally applicable to small and large companies.
The first recommendation relates to truthful advertising. The FTC states in the guidance that anything and app developer says about its product is an advertisement, and these advertisements must not have false or misleading claims, or leave out material information. The FTC also recommends looking at the product from the perspective of the average consumer, not just from the perspective of a software engineer or app “expert”. The FTC also noted its view that key information must be disclosed clearly and conspicuously, and not hidden behind vague hyperlinks.
The FTC also recommends building privacy into the app from the beginning by using Privacy by Design. The FTC also recommends limiting the amount of information that is collected, and securely storing the information that is collected. In certain cases, the FTC recommends getting express consent for certain types of sharing.
There are a number of other top-level recommendations, including:
- Be transparent about your data practices;
- Offer choices that are easy to find and easy to use;
- Honor your privacy promises;
- Protect kids’ privacy;
- Collect sensitive information only with consent; and
- Keep user data secure.
The role of data sensitivity again was highlighted by the FTC in this guidance, and it again shows the importance of Privacy 3.0, as well as the data sensitivity issues discussed in The Eye of The Beholder.