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NTIA and industry stakeholders to discuss mobile application transparency

Mobile apps will take center stage at a discussion over the White House's privacy blueprint, "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy."

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NTIA and industry stakeholders to discuss mobile application transparency

mobile application management, app, privacy


Mobile apps will take center stage on July 12 at a discussion over the White House's privacy blueprint, "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy." The National Telecommunications & Information Administration had proposed mobile app transparency as a topic due to recent concerns over the way mobile applications track user data, often without users knowing.

"Mobile applications are socially and economically important, but mobile devices pose distinct consumer privacy challenges, such as disclosing relevant information on a small display," NTIA said in an announcement. "In addition, commenters noted that practices surrounding the disclosure of consumer data privacy practices do not appear to have kept pace with rapid developments in technology and business models.  Although other possible topics were suggested and may be pursued in future multi stakeholder convenings, the mobile app transparency topic presents a strong opportunity for stakeholders to reach consensus on a code of conduct in a reasonable timeframe."

The meeting is designed to allow stakeholders to give input on policies to protect user privacy. NTIA is encouraging the development of a code of conduct, which would provide a clear view of how enterprises should convey their mobile application data practices to customers. The meeting will also allow mobile app businesses to better understand how the White House's Privacy Blueprint concerns them.

Applications raise iOS security concerns

LinkedIn's calendar application recently made headlines for collecting data from users' Apple calendar and storing that information on LinkedIn servers, but the business social networking site isn't the only app developer that has caused a stir by violating Apple's privacy policies.

A recent article by North Jersey Media Group confirmed incidents such as these are not unique by highlighting another mobile app that went too far. The mobile app company 24x7digital came under scrutiny after its educational apps for the iPhone and iPad collected and transmitted personal information on kindergarten through second grade students. The information included first and last names and was transmitted to a third-party data analytics company.

“Mobile devices can capture and transmit a wealth of personal information about users, including their identities and even their geographic location," said New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who was quoted in the article. "When we find that companies are using this ability to transmit information about children without their parents’ knowledge or consent, we will take immediate action."

The article also highlights comments from Josh Golin, Associate Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, who said the major concern isn't just that the company collected private data. The fact that no one is certain what the data is being used for is "a problem in itself."

Mobile application management: For performance and security

The privacy issues raised by the 24x7digital data collection incident are concerns for businesses as well. It is important for enterprises to adopt mobile device management and mobile application management solutions with the tools to control applications, which could be downloaded to devices storing sensitive corporate data.

A recent TechTarget article highlights the importance of MDM solutions with app control functionality. Access control policies and application control can help businesses protect their data by limiting which devices can access enterprise information and by limiting which applications employees can download on the mobile devices they use for work.

"Some application agreements specify that a vendor can download contact information from a mobile device, and such agreements can result in corporate information leaks," the article states. "Businesses need to have app control on mobile devices, and MDM software enables them to enforce access control and allowed application policies."

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