In wake of App Store data upload scandal, Microsoft, others agree to new privacy standard

After a number of applications in the iPhone App Store were found uploading user data to their servers (I suspect the same applied to the same apps in Marketplace) the California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced an agreement with with six companies whose platforms comprise the majority of the mobile apps market: Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion that will see the consumers warned better of privacy implications of apps PRIOR to downloading them, and also educate developers to best practices.

The agreement will allow consumers the opportunity to review an app’s privacy policy before they download the app rather than after, and will offer consumers a consistent location for an app’s privacy policy on the application-download screen. If developers do not comply with their stated privacy policies, they can be prosecuted under California’s Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law.

The agreement will see Marketplace:

  • Require any software that uses personal information to provide a privacy policy that can be viewed in the store before any app is downloaded.
  • There will also be a requirement to provide links to the relevant documents in an obvious and consistent location.
  • Each app store will provide a simple way for users to report developers that violate the rules.
  • Each platform is committed to educating developers about their obligations to respect consumer privacy and to disclose what private information they collect, how it is used and how it is shared.

“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," said Attorney General Harris. "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."

The date when these new policies will come into action has not been announced.

See the full press release at Engadget here.