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Feds call on app makers to take privacy more seriously

February 04, 2013|By David Lazarus
  • Federal officials say app developers should pay more attention to people's privacy.
Federal officials say app developers should pay more attention to people's… (Ideaverse )

Federal regulators have warned the mobile-app industry that if it doesn't take people's privacy more seriously, lawmakers will likely lower the boom.

The Federal Trade Commission is urging smartphone and tablet app developers to include "do not track" features so marketers can't follow people as they traverse the wireless world.

An FTC staff report also calls for mobile apps to include easily accessible privacy policies that feature more understandable language.

Novel ideas, right?

"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," says FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "These best practices will help to safeguard consumer privacy and build trust in the mobile marketplace, ensuring that the market can continue to thrive."

The agency's recommendations aren't binding, but they provide a clear sense of how the regulatory winds are blowing.

About 217 million smartphones were purchased worldwide in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the FTC. Many are now in the hands of kids.

The FTC warned tech companies last year that they need to do more to safeguard young people's data.

The FTC report says officials will "closely monitor developments in this space and consider additional ways it can help businesses effectively provide privacy information to consumers."

Businesses that don't want such "help" would be wise to take the initiative themselves.

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