Photo by mollybob
Barely a week goes by without major new stories about web and mobile privacy. The Federal Trade Commission just issued a report finding that 80% of children’s apps do not apply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. In February of 2012 the White House called upon Congress to pass a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. This issue becomes more prominent by the day.
The law has been on the books since 2004, but it has been scarcely enforced, and many companies are out of compliance. A study conducted in early 2012 found that only 5% of apps were compliant with CalOPPA. With attention comes enforcement.
In February of 2012, the California AG announced that she had reached a deal with Google, Apple, HP, Microsoft, RIM and Amazon whereby these app gateways agreed to facilitate greater compliance with and enforcement of CalOPPA. Essentially, the gateways agreed to have a dedicated place in their app submission and approval process for developers to submit their privacy policies, and to facilitate the identification and reporting of apps that did not comply with CalOPPA. Facebook subsequently signed on to the AG’s program.
In July of 2012, the California AG formed a Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit, charged solely with enforcing California’s privacy laws, including CalOPPA. The pressure builds.
Although lawsuits are likely to be resolved and bad publicity may pass, the time is now to audit privacy compliance and tweak whatever might be needed. CalOPPA requires “conspicuous” posting of privacy policies. Although there is very little court guidance on what this means – the law is only now being tested – for years, the gold standard for online contract formation has been the opt-in “click-through” agreement. Other methods are available as well, and common sense can be a guide – as long as a reasonable person would notice the policy, CalOPPA’s requirements have likely been met.
Privacy issues are here to stay, and are likely only to become heavier as further states and the federal government take notice and pass legislation. If you are not already, get ahead of the trend now.
Contributed by Scott Smedresman Associate at SorinRand.