California Attorney General Warning App Developers They Can’t Mess With Consumer Privacy

Watch out, mobile app developers — California has your number and it’s not going to let you get away with violating consumer privacy. The state’s attorney general issued letters this week to the makers of 100 mobile apps that they must have a written privacy policy posted on their products to explain to customers which information the apps gather and share.

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris went after the most popular apps first, including Open Table and the apps for Delta and United Airlines. Each company was given 30 days to post a “conspicuous” privacy policy, reports the Los Angeles Times. Failure to do so would result in a penalty of up to $2,500 every single time a Californian downloads that app.

“Protecting the privacy of online consumers is a serious law enforcement matter,” Harris said in a written statement. “We have worked hard to ensure that app developers are aware of their legal obligations to respect the privacy of Californians, but it is critical that we take all necessary steps to enforce California’s privacy laws.”

United responded saying its privacy policy can be viewed on its website, saying in a statement: “We are taking all steps necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance with California law as it relates to our mobile app.”

Delta also responded:  “We have received the letter from the Attorney General and intend to provide the requested information.”]

Harris wants to extend privacy protections required by California law to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, rules that previously existed just for Internet use on computers. While she can’t write new laws for mobile apps, she’s broadening the scope of a 2004 state law that says online services that collect personal info from consumers to have privacy policies.

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris puts mobile apps on notice about privacy [Los Angeles Times]