Attorney General Kamala D. Harris  (Source:
Google, Amazon, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research-In-Motion are the companies that agreed to the global privacy policy for mobile app users

The state of California just upped its commitment to mobile Internet privacy in regards to applications via a new agreement that improves current privacy protections.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of the State of California Department of Justice announced today that six of the largest tech companies associated with the mobile apps market agreed to a California law that forces apps that collect personal information to have a privacy policy. 

Google, Amazon, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research-In-Motion are the six major companies that agreed to the addition of a global privacy policy for mobile app users. The new agreement will allow customers to review the privacy policy of an app before they even download it. Customers will also be able to report apps that do not comply with the new agreement.

"Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is," said Harris. "This agreement strengthens the privacy protections of California consumers and of millions of people around the globe who use mobile apps. By ensuring that mobile apps have privacy policies, we create more transparency and give mobile users more informed control over who accesses their personal information and how it is used.

"California has a unique commitment to protecting the privacy of our residents. Our constitution directly guarantees a right to privacy, and we will defend it. Forging this common statement of mobile privacy principles shows the power of collaboration -- among government, industry and consumers -- to create solutions to problems no one group can tackle alone."

Mobile apps have become an every day part of life for most smartphone users. Currently, there are 600,000 apps in Apple's App Store, 400,000 apps in Google's Android Market, and these apps have been downloaded over 35 billion times. However, many of these apps do not provide suitable privacy transparency to users.

Just last year, lawmakers investigated the collection, use and storage of consumer location data from four U.S. wireless carriers. They determined that mobile privacy safeguards should be applied to third-party app developers as well after discovering that location data was captured on certain phones. 

Phonemakers have been caught tracking user locations without consent. For instance, Microsoft was sued last September for allegedly tracking user locations without consent in Windows Phone 7. Last April, Apple was tracking the location's of iPhone and iPad users and Android phones were found to be mining personal data as well.

The new California agreement aims to educate app developers and get them on the bandwagon with respecting user privacy. If any developer fails to comply, they can be prosecuted under the Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law in California.

Source: State of California Departmet of Justice

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