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Legal Technology: California Attorney General Lets Companies Know They're Not Complying with State's Privacy Law

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October 31, 2012

California Attorney General Lets Companies Know They're Not Complying with State's Privacy Law

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has started to let mobile app developers and companies know they are out of compliance with California’s privacy law.

The companies have 30 days to post a privacy policy in their app to inform users of “what personally identifiable information about them is being collected and what will be done with that private information,” according to a statement from Harris’s office.

She said that formal letters will be sent to 100 non-compliant apps. Her office will start sending letters to those with the most popular apps on mobile platforms. These include Open Table and apps for Delta and United Airlines, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“Protecting the privacy of online consumers is a serious law enforcement matter,” Harris said in a statement carried by TMCnet. “We have worked hard to ensure that app developers are aware of their legal obligations to respect the privacy of Californians, but it is critical that we take all necessary steps to enforce California’s privacy laws.”

Companies may be fined up to $2,500 each time a non-compliant app is downloaded, according to the Attorney General’s office.

She adds that Amazon, Apple (News - Alert), Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research In Motion each “agreed to principles designed to bring the industry in line with California law requiring mobile apps that collect personal information to have a privacy policy.”

Consumers can review an app’s privacy policy before the app is downloaded. The app’s privacy policy has a consistent location, too.

The letters represent “the first step” to enforce California’s Online Privacy Protection Act, according to The Associated Press.

The announcement by Harris is getting a reaction from at least two companies, according to the LA Times.

On Tuesday, United said it now has a privacy policy on its website. "We are taking all steps necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance with California law as it relates to our mobile app," the company said in the statement.

Similarly, Delta said, "We have received the letter from the Attorney General and intend to provide the requested information."

Edited by Braden Becker



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