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State's top cop: Where is United Airlines app's privacy policy?

October 12, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
  • California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris speaks at the Democratic National Convention last month.
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris speaks at the Democratic National… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris put United Airlines on notice Friday via Twitter.

@KamalaHarris rebuked the airline for not displaying a privacy policy on its mobile app.

“Fabulous app, @United Airlines, but where is your app's #privacy policy?” she wrote.

She also linked to California’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires commercial websites to conspicuously post a privacy policy if they collect personally identifiable information from Californians.

"We have to both cheer the incredible advances in technology and at the same time protect consumer privacy. Atty. Gen. Harris believes the only way to do both is through innovation in oversight. She was proud to strengthen consumer privacy by requiring a privacy policy for all mobile apps, and expects every company to live up to their legal obligations of transparency and security," Harris’ spokesman Shum Preston said in an emailed statement.

United Airlines responded with an emailed statement.

"We are committed to protecting our customers' data and personally identifiable information," the statement said. "We will review the app to ensure that our privacy policy is also easily accessible to United app users."

Harris is looking to extend privacy protections that are commonplace on the Web to smartphones and tablets. She can't write new rules for mobile apps. Instead, she is broadly interpreting a 2004 state law that requires "online services" that collect personal information from consumers to have privacy policies.

In February, her office brokered a deal with six of the largest companies running mobile app stores. Under the deal, Apple Inc., Google Inc., Inc., Microsoft Corp., Research in Motion Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard Co. agreed to give apps the ability to conspicuously post clear and complete information on how they collect, use and share consumer data.


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Facebook to require privacy policy for all apps in App Center

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, tech giants agree on mobile app privacy

Follow me on Twitter @jguynn

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