California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced today an agreement with Google and five other tech companies including Apple, Amazon, HP, RIM, and Microsoft, that will see all companies implementing new standards for displaying privacy policies for apps that collect personal data. This took place multiple state attorneys general sent letters to Google CEO Larry Page expressing concerns over the companies new unified privacy policy rolling out March 1. The press release described the agreement:

The agreement with the platforms is designed to make sure that mobile apps comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. The Act requires operators of commercial web sites and online services, including mobile apps, who collect personally identifiable information about Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy.

The new agreement will force Google and the other companies to implement a method of displaying a privacy policy to the user before an app is downloaded. The announcement noted all platforms would include the feature in a consistent place on the “application-download screen.” The news followed a FTC report criticizing privacy issues about mobile apps for children and lawmakers issuing a letter to Apple following privacy concerns over Path’s use of contacts in the iPhone’s address book. The Attorney General plans to meet with the companies in six months to assess the progress of the agreement, and we will wait to hear from Google on exactly how developers and the Android Market will carry out the privacy policies. The press release said a recent study found only approximately 5 percent of all mobile apps have a privacy policy. Attorney General Harris talked about the agreement:

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“Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is..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.”

As reported by the Washington Post, a letter sent by “dozens of state attorneys general” to Larry Page today claimed Google’s new privacy policies coming March 1 “forces these consumers to allow information across these products to be shared, without giving them the proper ability to opt out.” They are asking for a meeting to answers their concerns by Feb. 29. We will keep you posted.

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