The ever-escalating battle between mobile marketing and consumer privacy made headlines again today as the Federal Trade Commission urged the industry to be more transparent and give consumers more control over how their personal information is accessed and used. The FTC released guidelines asking operating system providers, app developers, advertisers and others to create transparent privacy policies and to give users a “do not track” option to opt out of data-gathering activities.
Such guidelines and suggestions are nothing new, of course: As I wrote in a research briefing last summer, some states have already enacted privacy laws for mobile users, and regulations in Europe and elsewhere are already having an impact on the space. (Indeed, the FTC today announced that Path would pony up $800,000 to settle a dispute over alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.)
But the mobile app market is rapidly growing space where countless developers bring new titles to market every day, and policy-makers have an awful lot of catching up to do. So it’s good to see that industry trade groups like the Association for Competitive Technology’s app developers division is backing the FTC’s guidelines. Because if the industry doesn’t effectively police itself, lawmakers will be increasingly eager to jump in. And that could hinder the mobile market in a big way.