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NTIA’s First Step Toward App Privacy Code of Conduct Received with Doubt

Various stakeholders in the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration took a first step toward developing a code of conduct for mobile app transparency in a meeting June 12 by focusing the debate on what becomes of information once collected and deposited by mobile apps. 

“Transparency, in itself, has no value,” said Pat Walshe, director of privacy at GSMA, a mobile carrier trade group, as quoted by Network World. “People need tools, they need mechanisms, to express choice.” One mobile app asked Walshe to agree to a 21,000-word privacy policy, he said. “That was transparent, but it was useless,” he added.

When presented with a long privacy policy, chances are the user skips it, but nonetheless checks it to get to enjoy the app. The question remains what happens with the data gathered through the app under various more or less reasonably explained arguments.

Berin Szoka, founder of TechFreedom, may agree that NTIA members can provide feedback to mobile app developers, business decisions on privacy practices need however be made “behind closed doors” by people in the industry.

On the other hand, Lawrence Strickling, NTIA’s administrator, said “we had to start somewhere” and having all participants agree on moving toward a mutually set privacy code of conduct is the best first step. NTIA focused on describing as clearly as possible the kind of personal data required by the app, how this info is being used and what other critical data is asked of the user without being essential to the app.

About the author

Loredana BOTEZATU

A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.

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