MEF unveils AppPrivacy – the free privacy policy generator for mobile apps

bates11Today MEF launched AppPrivacy™, a free resource for app developers around the world featuring a best practice privacy policy generator, with the goal to build consumer trust. Simon Bates, MEF’s Senior Advisor for Policy & Initiatives, takes us on a tour of its key features, and explores how the online tool is the result of more than a year’s collaboration by MEF’s Privacy in Apps Working Group.

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Why App Privacy? And why now?

In previous posts I’ve stressed the need for app developers to think hard about their use of personal information. Privacy is a hot topic right now in the US, Europe and other major markets where apps are sold and it’s only going to get hotter.

The Privacy Policy Generator in action – click to enlarge

I’ve spoken to a lot of developers about privacy and their reaction is often OK, I get that it’s important, but what exactly do I do about it?” The fact is, most devs lack the time or resource to become instant experts in government policy. They want to spend their time creating apps and making them better, and what’s wrong with that? (Nothing).

MEF wants to make it easy for developers to build best practice privacy into their apps and, in so doing, build trust with their customers. That’s where AppPrivacy comes in. It’s a one-stop-shop for mobile app transparency.

The centerpiece of the site is a free tool that provides a privacy policy to be customized and embedded into an app. There are also resources and links for those that want to find out more about the topic.

The tool works by asking a few simple questions about how the app uses data. It then provides a package of HTML code in a downloadable zip file. It is fully customizable so the policy can incorporate the look and feel of the app.  Developers then choose where they want the privacy to appear within the app and decide whether it is to be hosted locally or remotely on a server. The whole process should take no more than fifteen minutes.

Policy

A quarter of an hour isn’t a long time and free is, well, free. The result is peace of mind. The developer is secure in the knowledge that they are doing the right thing and the consumer is confident they know exactly what personal information the app is using.

And the result of peace of mind is trust, which can lead to a long-term relationship between app developer and consumer. Not a bad outcome for fifteen minutes’ work.

“We’ve always respected our consumers’ privacy and MEF’s new tool makes it much easier to build best practice privacy into mobile applications and creates privacy policies that are simple for our consumers to understand which helps us to build trust, demonstrating that we have nothing to hide.”

- Paul Phillips, TT and motorsport manager, Isle of Man Government.

The Privacy in Apps Working Group

AppPrivacy was developed by a working group of fifteen companies representing a cross section of the mobile content and commerce industry. App developers, publishers and marketplaces; ad networks; carriers; law firms; security software manufacturers and middleware suppliers.

The individuals that developed the tool include privacy experts, lawyers, developers and entrepreneurs. AppPrivacy draws on their individual talents and collective experience. Their passion and expertise is the reason why developers can trust AppPrivacy to deliver best practice privacy right into the heart of their app design process.

I am especially grateful to Kasey Chappelle of Vodafone; Chris Davies of Inmobi; Nick Graham of Dentons and Alina Hua of Mozilla for their significant support throughout the project as well as Andy MacLaren and his fantastic team at AgencyMobile who developed the online tool for us.

MEF’s Working Group is a global and cross-sector group and benefited from other invaluable contributions: Siobhan Macdermott of AVG, Todd Daubert of Dentons, Lisa Ann Hall of EA, Todd Ruback of Evidon, Kirill Zelensky of Kaspersky, Daniel Ralls of mBlox, Mario Hachem of MT2, Jeff Lowder of OpenMarket, Daniel Preiskel of Preiskel & Co, Hannes Harborth of RedBull Media House and Richard Qiu of TRUSTe.

We urge you to check AppPrivacy out for yourselves and let us know what you think. Is it as easy to use as it should be? Anything else we could add? We’d love to know.

Simon Bates is MEF’s Senior Advisor for Policy & Initiatives, you can contact him here

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