FTC Suggests “Do-Not-Track” Feature for Mobile Software and Apps

The FTC claimed that Path, without alerting its users, engaged in deceptive practices because it routinely collected and stored contact information in users’ address books. The privacy policy that Path provided to consumers stated that it collects limited, mostly technical, information about users’ devices.

In fact, the commission said, Path was collecting personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, usernames for Facebook and Twitter, and dates of birth.

The Company also collected some of this information from users who, upon signing up for the service, indicated that they were under the age of 13 without parental consent or disclosure of how they would use the information. – violations of the rules adopted under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Path, without admitting or denying the charges, agreed to pay an $800,000 fine and to comply with the Children’s Privacy Act, destroy information already collected about children, follow its own privacy policy and have its privacy efforts monitored by an outside party.

In one declaration posted on its website, Path said that “there was a period of time where our system did not automatically reject people who indicated they were under 13.” But even before the FTC contacted the company, Path said, “We discovered and corrected this qualification of the registration process and took further action by suspending all underage accounts that were allowed to be created in error. .”

The FTC staff report, which was approved by a vote of 4 to 0, with one committee member not participating, acknowledged that steps were already being taken to adopt best practices in privacy protection. private life. Among them, the creation of a group, Moms with appswhich developed a badge icon to alert parents to the advertising and data collection practices of child-directed apps.

Even before this report, “the FTC hasn’t been gentle,” said Lisa J. Sotto, managing partner of Hunton & Williams in New York. “They have filed a number of enforcement actions,” she said. “Players in the mobile ecosystem know that they are in the crosshairs of regulators.”

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