Ina Fried

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Feds Urge App Makers, Mobile Operating Systems to Do Better on Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday issued a list of recommendations of how those who make mobile software can do a better job of protecting user’s privacy and making clear what information is being collected.


The move comes amid growing privacy concerns regarding the types of information collected by mobile devices and apps, including location and other personal data.

“The mobile world is expanding and innovating at breathtaking speed, allowing consumers to do things that would have been hard to imagine only a few years ago,” outgoing FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. “These best practices will help to safeguard consumer privacy and build trust in the mobile marketplace, ensuring that the market can continue to thrive.”

Leibowitz announced on Friday that he will step down later this month.

The FTC report contains recommendations for those that create the mobile operating systems, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry, and for those that make apps for those platforms and for other players, such as mobile ad networks.

On the OS side, the FTC suggestions include making disclosures as consumers are taking potentially privacy-compromising actions such as sharing their location, as well as having a single place to view privacy settings and icons that show when information is being shared.

For app makers, the FTC recommends a clear, easily accessible privacy policy, as well as getting users to expressly provide consent when sharing information and better communication with the third parties the apps work with, such as ad networks and analytics companies, to make sure partners also support their privacy choices.

(Image courtesy of Geek Culture/The Joy of Tech)

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work