Your favorite mobile apps should soon be making it a lot more clear when they intend to use your data.
The Attorney General of California, Kamala D. Harris, announced Wednesday a deal with Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion; the companies agreed to strengthen privacy protection for users that download third-party apps to smartphones and tablet devices.
In the deal, the companies said they would require app developers to clearly spell out what data their apps can access and what the app or company does with that data. The deal also makes app store custodians such as Apple and Google, who run the App Store and Android Market, set up a way for users to report apps that don’t provide a clear-cut explanation of their privacy policies.
According to a statement from Attorney General Harris’ office, if an app developer doesn’t meet these new privacy-policy requirements, they could be charged with a crime under California law.
“California has a unique commitment to protecting the privacy of our residents,” said Harris. “Our constitution directly guarantees a right to privacy, and we will defend it.”
Android users are well aware that developers on the platform are required to ask them for permission before accessing their personal data, but they’re not told how or why their data is being accessed. Apple also doesn’t allow any software on its App Store that takes personal information without asking, but developers haven’t been transparent on that platform, either.
That controversy managed to pique the interest of some members of Congress, who sent a letter of inquiry to Apple.
Should lawmakers intervene when the creators of popular platforms like Android and iOS may not be doing enough to protect the privacy of their users? Sound off in the comments below.
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