Agreement Signed by Top Technology Firms Agreeing to Privacy Policy Reform

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Apple, Google, and other Firms Sign Agreement

Given concerns about privacy issues prompted by Google’s recent change in privacy policies, 6 top consumer technology firms have agreed to be more transparent about their privacy disclosures prior to users downloading their applications. Many a Los Angeles business lawyer legal firms as well as Beverly Hills corporate franchise litigation, not to mention some Los Angeles intellectual property attorneys are getting involved in this business overall. This move follows great concern both from private and public interests about the security and privacy of private information and other data entrusted to these firms by their users.

An agreement was signed by the top technology businesses binding these firms as well as their developers to fully disclose how private information will be used and shared before various applications and programs are downloaded. The following big business companies signed the agreement: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Research In Motion. Here in Los Angeles LA the city of angels this is really a big story.

The Dangerous Lack of Privacy Policy Disclosures

At the time of the signing, the majority of the most popular applications had no privacy notifications in place. These applications not only request private information, but often also have access to the user’s contact book and contacts’ information as well. This is particularly true of people who own Android phones which require a sign-in into Google applications for the use of Android applications. To that end, Google stated that Android users will be given “even more ways to make informed decisions when it comes to their privacy.”

Google’s Recent Policy Change Sparks Debate

A statement was released by California’s Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris concerning this agreement. Within it, Harris noted that personal privacy should not be the price paid for the convenience of using mobile applications. Harris was one of many U.S. lawmakers who voiced their “serious concerns” over Google’s recent changes in its privacy policy, allowing private information gleaned from one Google application to be shared with all other Google applications.

This consolidation of privacy policies drew consternation from many as it shares information across the applications without giving users a clear or reasonable way to opt out of that sharing. Thirty-six Attorneys General signed the letter as well. Even the European Union has also requested that Google hold their policy change until the policy can be thoroughly investigated.

The Problem of Privacy Vulnerability is Widespread

Protection of privacy is particularly important as these 6 firms encompass a huge user base. For the Apple App Store alone, there are over a half-million applications for sale. Google’s Android market boasts of 400,000 applications. Consumer downloads of similar applications have exceeded 35 billion. With every year, these numbers grow exponentially. By 2015, downloads of mobile applications are expected to exceed 98 billion with a $6.8 billion market. This certainly effects central and southern California and Hollywood.

Harris emphasized the need for privacy policy investigation concerning mobile applications, stating “”Most mobile apps make no effort to inform users about how personal information is used…the consumer should be informed of what they are giving up.”

Firms and Attorneys General to Meet Within the Year

While an agreement is in place, there was no clear deadline for actions and the companies, having signed the agreement, are expected to meet with the Attorneys General within 6 months. At that time, an investigation will determine whether or not appropriate changes have been made to privacy policy and disclosure. If changes are not deemed appropriate, the threat of litigation looms as Harris has stated that “We can sue and we will sue” although she hopes this step will not be necessary.

Posts by Michael Ehline

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