As online companies move to offer their content and services on mobile and social platforms, the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday began exploring what information these companies should provide consumers about the firms’ privacy and advertising practices.
Both industry representatives and privacy advocates agreed at a day-long workshop that the lengthy and complicated privacy policies found on many websites should not be transferred to mobile phone applications. Instead, mobile app makers were urged to provide consumers with precise and understandable information that can be summed up in a few easy clicked icons, which might provide information about the data the app collects, its advertising practices and the security it provides users.
“We can’t take what we’ve been doing on the Internet, which we know doesn’t work, and apply it to mobile without significant changes,” said Jennifer King, a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley who studies how humans interact with computers.
Sara Kloek with the Association for Competitive Technology, which represents apps makers, praised an initiative from a group known as Moms with Apps that is working on a set of icons that mobile apps makers can use to provide information about their privacy practices.
There also was agreement that social media platforms like Twitter present new challenges for companies, particularly if someone is trying to make an advertising claim in a Tweet that must be qualified.
Linda Goldstein with the Promotion Marketing Association urged the FTC to give companies more flexibility in how they disclose advertising and privacy information to consumers on social media and mobile platforms.
Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, however, argued that, “advertising on social media has to adapt to existing law, not the other way around.”