ACT RESPONDS TO FTC REPORT ON “MOBILE APPS FOR KIDS”

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Today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission released a new report entitled “Mobile Apps for Kids” that highlighted a persistent privacy transparency gap on mobile apps for children. During their press conference, the FTC highlighted the Association for Competitive Technology’s education and transparency efforts as “promising.”

In response to the report, Association for Competitive Technology Executive Director Morgan Reed made the following statement:

“For the past year, we have educated hundreds of app developers around the country on best practices for privacy and developed new transparency icons. The message from the FTC today is that they appreciate our work, but we still have a lot to do.”

“The rapid growth of the mobile app industry has been fueled by startups and first time developers, some of whom are still in high school. In fact 87% of apps aredeveloped by small or micro businesses that do not have legal departments or privacy experts on staff. This report reminds us how important it is for the industry to focus attention on educating developers on privacy best practices.”

“We partnered with the world’s largest group of educational app developers, Parents with Apps, to run educational seminars and even create a new set of privacy disclosure icons for kids apps. We are continuing this work in 2013 and expanding it to include to all app developers.”

“One area of progress that the FTC missed, however, is on unique device identifiers like Apple’s UDID. Apple and the other platforms are moving developers away from using device-specific identifiers that can be unified across apps and services, and are introducing alternatives to limit tracking that are app-specific for sharing with advertisers and other 3rd parties. This will make it very difficult to combine information based on these ID’s across multiple apps or the web. Additionally, the platforms have given parents very granular tools that allow them to prevent apps from accessing certain types of data (like geolocation) regardless of app settings.”