App developers warned over privacy violations

Posted by Emma Woollacott

California's attorney general has issued a warning to mobile app developers that haven't yet posted privacy policies.

Kamala D Harris says she's notifying over 100 companies that they're breaking Californian privacy law by failing to post a conspicuous privacy policy within their app.

The California Online Privacy Protection Act was introduced earlier this year, making the state the only one to require mobile apps as well as websites to carry privacy warnings. The rule requires that this warning should explain what personally-identifiable information is being collected by the app, and what will be done with it.

"Protecting the privacy of online consumers is a serious law enforcement matter," says Harris.

"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."

Letters will initially go out to the 100 companies with the most popular non-compliant mobile apps. They ask developers to respond within 30 days, setting out a specific plan and timeline to comply - or else to give a good reason why their app shouldn't be covered by COPPA.

Companies can face fines of up to $2,500 each time a non-compliant app is downloaded, adding up to a pretty hefty potential cost.

While the attorney general hasn't specified which companies are being targeted, Bloomberg reports that they include United and Delta airlines and the online reservations site OpenTable.