Mobile Marketing Industry Sets Privacy Guidelines

Guidelines designed to fend off regulation

Hoping to establish a self-regulatory privacy program for mobile marketing that could satisfy government regulators, the Mobile Marketing Association Monday released its first privacy policy guidelines for mobile applications.

The new guidelines lay out core privacy principles, suggest consumer-friendly language developers can use to craft their own policies—including ways to inform consumers what data might be collected about them and how that data might be used and shared—and opt-in and opt-out mechanisms.

MMA's self-regulatory push is similar to a previous one from the interactive online ad industry, which has been busy rolling out its own privacy program.

With mobile marketing on track to top $1.1 billion this year and $1.5 billion next year, according to eMarketer, it was only a matter of time before Capitol Hill began scrutinizing mobile privacy issues. This year both the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law have held hearings about mobile location data and mobile applications.

"By creating guidelines that foster better practices and build a better consumer experience, industry members can show themselves to be good corporate citizens who don't need restrictive regulation to do business," said Greg Stuart, the global CEO of the MMA, in an email to Adweek.

MMA's 700 members have until Nov. 18, 2011 to comment and provide feedback on the guidelines before the final privacy policy guidelines are released. Then it's up to the members to implement them.

Stuart is hopeful members will follow the guidelines. "This is an industry looking for guidelines and best practices, but those who aren't straightforward with their customers are likely to feel the repercussions at their bottom lines with consumer dissatisfaction," he said.