Legislators Focus on Mobile Privacy Policies

Lora Bentley

Have you seen Google CEO Eric Schmidt's latest comment on the company's privacy policy? Speaking at a conference in the UK, Schmidt blamed the length and complexity of the policy on the company's legal team. He said:

These things are written by lawyers. And lawyers have to write it completely accurately, which makes it five paragraphs as opposed to: "We're going to do this with your data." That's a generic problem.
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Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google is working to simplify its policies so users are clear how their data will and will not be used, but translating legalese into plain English will take time. Schmidt indicated that one option would be to use simple terms for the users and then follow that with all the "legally required" terminology.

 

The simpler and shorter, the better, as far as most users are concerned, especially for those reading on mobile devices, which have considerably smaller screens. And since mobile privacy is a topic of particular interest among regulators in the EU and the U.S. these days, making the policies more mobile-friendly should be a pretty high priority - for Google, Apple, Facebook and any other online company that collects user information.

 

In fact, last week at a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) called on Facebook, Google and Apple to set the example for smaller companies and app developers in how data collection and use should be explained and then handled. He said:

You can't simply say "it is not my problem." I ask you to work with application developers, both large and small, to create better privacy notices and controls that work in the mobile world. This effort should make strong privacy policies and practices for mobile apps the norm, not the exception.


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