Lawmaker Releases Draft of App Privacy Bill

Public can provide feedback on website

There's no shortage of privacy bills in Congress, but that doesn't mean lawmakers won't keep trying. The latest entrant is a draft for a mobile privacy bill from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).

Called the Apps Act for "Application Privacy, Protection and Security Act of 2013," the bill as currently written requires apps to give consumers prior notice about what data it collects and how it will be used, stored and shared, as well as obtain consent for the collection terms. It would also allow users to opt out of the service and delete personal data collected by the app.

Violations of the Apps Act would be handled by the Federal Trade Commission.

Like a lot of bills that impact the Internet and digital media, Johnson is asking the public for their ideas on, a Web-based legislative project he launched last July to solicit ideas from the public for ways the federal government could better protect app users' rights.

"Many of you told us that simple mechanisms are important to protecting your privacy on mobile devices … without threatening the functionality or integrity of the mobile apps that you love," Johnson said in a statement.

Handling privacy policies on mobile devices isn't easy because of the small screen and the amount of time people are willing to spend figuring it out, not to mention what could be a complex message.

"You have about a 60-second window to communicate with the user," said Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association of Competitive Technology.

Reed and other stakeholders concerned about mobile privacy have been meeting regularly to hammer out a code of conduct for mobile app transparency through meetings organized by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. 

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