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Make app privacy as simple as a cereal box, FTC chairman says

May 31, 2012|By Michelle Maltais

How many clicks does it take to get to the center of an app's privacy policy? One hundred, according to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Liebowitz -- at least for one of the apps he recently checked out. 

Privacy policies on apps ought to be as simple as a box of cereal, according to Liebowitz, who was speaking about protecting consumers at the 10th annual All Things D conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. 

"They have to be like a nutrition guide on the side of a cereal box," he said, according to CNET.

In addition to talking about making it easier to find the policies, he noted that not every app spells out what they do with your data. More than 80% of mobile apps for children don't have privacy policies, Liebowitz said, according to AllThingsD.

Although tech vendors are getting better about building privacy into their apps, Liebowitz said consumers need more transparency and more choice, talking about topics such as "do not track" and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. "Your information should be your property," he said. 

An upcoming update to COPPA would require parental opt-in to track data of and geolocate children online.

And while Republicans and Democrats often don't agree on much, "privacy is one of the few bipartisan areas of agreement in Congress," Liebowitz said.

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