NTIA Hosts Inaugural Privacy Multistakeholder Meeting on App Transparency

July 17, 2012 | More than 300 individuals representing industry, consumer groups and government came together last Thursday (July 12th) in Washington, DC to participate in a government-led initiative to develop a “code of conduct” by which companies would disclose to consumers how they handle personal data collected through mobile apps.

Organized by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), “Seeking Common Ground Regarding Mobile Transparency” provided a forum for participants to voice their ideas and concerns regarding mobile app transparency. 

Following the publication in February 2012 of an Obama Administration report regarding online consumer privacy protections, the NTIA was charged with bringing together interested stakeholders to develop enforceable codes of conduct to specify how principles within the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights should apply in specific business contexts. Based upon stakeholder input, the NTIA selected transparency and mobile applications as the first topics to be addressed in this multistakeholder setting.

With nearly 200 participants on-site and another 100 participating via live webcast, stakeholders lined up to ask questions and offer comments spanning  the definition of “mobile application,” disclosures about why personal data is being used, assurances that the policies of child-directed apps can be easily understood by children and teens, the possible development of iconography to explain complex legal concepts, the creation of “digital billboards” for consumers to show what data is currently being shared, and more.

Stakeholders were also forthcoming with opinions to the NTIA about the schedule and format of future meetings, asking for improvements that would facilitate remote participation, the advance dissemination of meeting materials, and the implementation of archives and workshops.

Though TIA representatives offered no specific comments on behalf of the toy industry, the Association’s presence demonstrated TIA’s continuing stance as an advocate for sound and sensible measures that protect children’s privacy when using any form of digital media.  The Association will participate in future NTIA events and continue to actively monitor and engage in discussions regarding federal and state laws, regulations, reports, policy initiatives and self-regulatory standards that implicate privacy in a manner that affects toy companies.