Today we launched the App Privacy Icons – the newest feature of our App Trust Project. These icons are part of a broad campaign to provide developers with resources to demonstrate easy-to-understand transparency about the privacy settings and features of their apps.
In the increasingly competitive world of mobile apps, savvy consumers are making purchasing decisions that include whether and how an app collects or shares information about them. This industry-led measure – an eight-month collaborative effort by developer groups, designers, parents, and policymakers – provides consumers the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions. The icons provide simple yet informative transparency into the data collection and sharing practices of mobile apps, so that customers can quickly assess the apps they want to buy.
In addition to continuing the development of the privacy icons, we will be developing open-source code for developers to use in their apps and will be leading a campaign to promote these tools through social media, developer events, and advertising.
ACT Executive Director Morgan Reed:
Developers need a simple way to communicate to customers about data collection and sharing practices. The App Privacy Icons help convey that information in an easy-to-read display customized for the small screens of mobile devices. Ultimately, this is about communicating trust and value to customers in a manner that embraces the massive shift underway to smartphones and tablets.
App Privacy Icons
The App Privacy Icons inform users, in an easy-to-read display, whether an app contains advertising, collects data, or shares information with social networks. These icons provide consumers with an at-a-glance view of key privacy considerations and are designed to augment existing privacy policies rather than replace them. The icons can be implemented in multiple places including on app websites, in the app itself, and in the app store documentation.
For the past eight months, ACT has worked closely with a group of children’s app developers on the development of these simple, graphical representations of data collection and sharing practices. Under the leadership of Lorraine Akemann of Moms with Apps and Tore Hansen of Operatio Apps, the icons generated a great deal of excitement within the developer community and parents groups.
Moms With Apps founder Lorraine Akemann:
Keeping kids safe online is a team effort. When app developers use clearly written privacy policies, parents have access to information about how the app works beforethey download it. New technology is introduced at an alarming rate, which means consumer education around digitally literacy is important for successfully navigating mobile environments. Hopefully these icons and ACT’s efforts will help propel the education process.
Taking the Icons Out of Beta to the Next Level
To build on this excitement, ACT is committing to advance the development of these icons, hosting them along with other valuable developer resources, and to evangelize them to the broader app development community.
ACT has convened an Advisory Board with leaders from the development community, industry groups, and parent and consumer organizations to guide the continued development of the icons. The initial board members include:
PrivacyChoice founder Jim Brock:
Tore Hansen, founder of Operatio Apps
As an app developer, and a parent of four kids from ages 3 to 11, there is plenty of opportunity to see how children’s privacy may be safeguarded or compromised in apps. It is sometimes difficult for consumers to know at a glance what each app does. Providing consumers an up-front disclosure, using easy-to-understand icons, can help identify an app’s mostimportant privacy-related features. The App Privacy Icons provide a very effective way to educate consumers about privacy features, and are optimized for implementation throughout the app stores.
ACT is also committed to a broad campaign to promote the icons and privacy transparency among app developers. This campaign will include:
· Work with platform providers to assist developers using the icons
· Conduct outreach program to encourage developeradoption
· Highlight successes and best practices
· Make changes and improvements when necessary
The new website for the icons, http://AppTrustProject.com, will include information on how to implement them, links to source code, and graphic files.