The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce held its latest meeting with privacy stakeholders November 30, to discuss privacy best practices for the mobile environment. We have previously blogged about some of these earlier meetings on our sister blog from our Global Regulatory Enforcement Group.

This latest meeting once again joined members of the app developer industry with members of consumer advocate and privacy groups, along with other stakeholders from government, academia, and the private sector. Discussion focused on the latest draft of the Mobile Application Transparency Code of Conduct. Some of the issues considered in this latest draft are:

  • The scope of the definition of “Mobile Devices,” and whether, in addition to smart phones and tablets, that term should include “similar portable computing devices”
  • What type of data should be covered by the Code
  • Whether third-party service providers should be subject to the Code
  • Whether mobile app providers should be required to provide a “Short Notice” in addition to other Notice
  • What elements should be included in the Notice
  • Whether the format of the Short Notice should be standardized or within the provider’s discretion
  • How the Short Notice should be presented at download, if at all
  • Whether the Code should require that companies establish a mechanism for consumers to access data

Why This Matters. While the Code is not yet finalized, app developers and marketers who include apps in their communications strategy should pay close attention to these proceedings. There is clearly a focus among all stakeholders on the broader issues of how widely the Code should apply and what type of notice app providers should be required to give consumers, as well as how that notice should be delivered. In an age when consumer consent, opt-in vs. opt-out, and geo-location are front and center in the privacy and mobile debate, the outcome of these discussions will have a major impact on the market. While the Code will only represent a series of best practices, as opposed to binding law, it will still set standards for mobile app providers and marketers regarding how they operate in the mobile environment with respect to consumer privacy.

We will continue to report on this process as the meetings continue to move forward. The next meeting is scheduled for December 18, 2012.