App Privacy Policy

As an app developer, providing a privacy policy for your users is not only good business practice, but a crucial element in being an active participant in today’s app marketplace.

As an app developer, providing a privacy policy for your users is not only good business practice, but a crucial element in being an active participant in today’s app marketplace. Regardless of whether you hire a professional for assistance in creating such a policy, or you draft one yourself, be sure to dedicate the appropriate amount of time and resources to this matter. Putting together a privacy policy by using generators or copying from another developer or publisher could cost you dearly.

1) Facebook requirements:

News broke in late June that Facebook would require a privacy policy for every app in Facebook's App Center. We're seeing signals though, that Facebook requires privacy policies for all apps using Facebook integration. As promised in its June 27th Developer Blog post, Facebook has started warning developers about noncompliance with emails entitled, "Notice of Violation: Missing Privacy Policy." Their post goes on to share that users will be blocked from accessing apps that haven't provided a privacy policy following a third warning. If you want your app to be associated with Facebook in any manner, you have to post a privacy policy.

2) State implications: 

States play an important role in the privacy changes we're witnessing. On February 22, 2012, California's Attorney General, Kamala Harris, announced an agreement with mobile industry giants (Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion) to improve consumer privacy protection. To its credit, Facebook has taken the lead by requiring that developers provide privacy policies.

While posting a generic privacy policy to meet app distributor requirements may ensure your app is available to the public, it doesn’t mean you are out of the woods. This area is quickly evolving and it's simply a smart business choice to provide a properly constructed policy. Furthermore, the penalties for misleading California consumers can be as high as $5,000 per app download. Don't forget that 35 other states joined California in contacting Google over consumer privacy concerns. 

3) Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

The FTC's primary strategic goal is protecting consumers across the United States by preventing "fraud, deception, and unfair business practices in the marketplace." The time has come that mobile apps are finally on its radar. On May 30, 2012, the FTC held a workshop on advertising and privacy disclosures to help determine how mobile privacy policies can be made accessible and effective. 

As a provider of an app product, the more information you collect or retain from your users, the higher the standard is to which you will be held. Developers who retain and cull consumer information through a mobile app are wise to take steps now to comply with current private enterprise and state regulations and avoid headaches, or even legal problems, down the road.

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for individualized legal advice. Reading this article does not create an attorney-client privilege. You should consult with an attorney if you're in need of a privacy policy.

Jovan A. Johnson. Esq.


Jovan Johnson is a California licensed attorney who focuses on SEO, mobile games, and apps. He is passionate about mentoring students and steering dollars to scholarships, and speaks regularly about career opportunities. He is a principal at Johnson MooFurzyPaymaster.Co, and 320 Instrumentals.

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