App developers take note – popular photo-sharing app Path is taking heat for uploading and storing users’ entire contact list to its servers without making this clear to users. Make sure users understand and approve before you do the same! This blunder comes on the heels of Monday’s warning from the FTC to six marketers of background screening mobile applications that they might be violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).
These recent events highlight the persistent question of how to ensure consumer protection in an increasingly mobile world. Whether through ignorance or willful disregard, its clear that clandestine and unnecessary collection of user data will continue to draw the attention of regulators. “If you don’t want to see us, don’t collect data you don’t need, don’t collect data that’s unrelated to your app. Don’t collect information you don’t know what you’ll use or what you need,” said David Vladek, the FTC director for the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Web 2.0 Summit last October.
Protect yourself by protecting your consumers – ask first before collecting data. Find help and access resources at ApplicationPrivacy.org.