American Society of Magazine Editors

Discussions on Mobile Transparency Continue; Congress Gets Started, Too

February 25, 2013

Continuing a process started in August of 2012, the Department of Commerce, under the auspices of the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) continues to hold “stakeholder meetings” in an effort to create a voluntary code of conduct for mobile app transparency.  The most recent meeting was the tenth the NTIA has held.

To date, consensus has been impeded by the wide diversity of views of the participants on many issues, including components such as the format and method of the notice that is given.  As a result, parallel with the NTIA-led effort, several entities, (including some that are simultaneously participating in the NTIA process) are attempting to work on voluntary guidelines suited to their views and perspectives.   It is likely that several voluntary transparency guidelines may emerge once the process is complete.  

Not to be excluded, early in the new Congress that convened last month, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) released a discussion draft of a bill on mobile privacy.  Named the Application Privacy, Protection and Security Act of 2013 (“APPS Act”) the bill would obligate app developers to disclose to users the terms and conditions around the collection, use, storage, and sharing of user data. Additionally, the bill would require apps to allow users to opt out of the service and delete personal data collected by the app.   The bill was created in part by a web-based initiative led by Johnson called AppRights.  Given industry’s frosty reception to the bill, if the bill is formally introduced, it is not likely to advance.