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October 4th, 2012
Marketing Your Mobile App: Get it Right from the Start
The FTC recently released guidelines entitled "Marketing Your Mobile App: Get It Right from the Start". The guidelines provide valuable do's and don'ts for companies and individuals creating mobile applications. The guideline was divided into two sections, "Truthful Advertising" and "Privacy". Here's a rundown of what you need to know.
Truthful Advertising in Mobile Apps
- Tell the truth about your app. The guidelines call for application developers to look at their application as an average user would, and make certain they have competent and reliable evidence for claims made in the app. The guidelines refer specifically to an FTC action against a mobile application that falsely claimed it could cure acne.
- Disclose key information clearly and conspicuously. Information about the application should be disclosed so that an average user would easily notice and understand disclosed information. While the guidelines do not designate a specific size or positioning, in the words of the FTC, important terms should not be buried in terms and conditions or in "dense blocks of legal mumbo jumbo."
Privacy in Mobile Apps
- Focus on privacy from the start. The guidelines emphasize "privacy by design." This means that when building an app, developers should plan to limit collection of information, securely store information, properly disclose information collected to users, and dispose of information when it is no longer needed. Design your default privacy settings to comport with user expectations. And get your customer's express consent for collecting and sharing any information.
- Be transparent about data practices. Tell your users clearly and conspicuously what you are collecting and what is being done with the information you collect.
- Offer choices that are easy to find and use - and act promptly on user requests. Don't hide your privacy options: users should be able to turn off data collection in most cases. The guidelines also require companies to honor their privacy promises by promptly fulfilling requests to cease data collection.
- Protect children's privacy. If the app is designed for children under age 13, then the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act applies. For purposes of legal compliance, you should assume that data collection through a mobile app is the same as data collection online.
- Collect sensitive personal information only with consent (including precise geolocation information). While the collection of any personal information requires consent, the guidelines indicate that not all mobile app data collection is the same. For instance, personal information is more sensitive than aggregated information. The exact location of a person is more sensitive than their city. As you begin to collect more sensitive personal information through a mobile app, be sure the consent you receive from users also reflects the sensitive nature of the data you are collecting.
- Keep user data secure. Mobile developers have an obligation to properly store and dispose of the information they collect in a secure manner. A number of state and federal laws govern data storage, and class action lawsuits for improper data storage are proceeding against companies that have had personal information data breaches.
If you have questions about the new mobile app development guidelines, contact Greg Boyd at (212) 826 5581 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Interactive Entertainment Group.
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