The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published best practice guidelines for mobile application developers with truth-in-advertising and principles of privacy. “Marketing Your Mobile App: Get it Right from the Start” provides general principles for creating mobile apps, including:

  • Be truthful about what the app is capable of doing: Once an app is distributed, a developer becomes an advertiser. False claims in an advertisement can lead to additional liability—therefore, an advertisement must always tell the truth.
  • Disclose Key Information Conspicuously:  Disclosures must be clear and accurate;
  • Consider Privacy Implications: Mobile app developers should limit information collection to a need-know-basis and if the collection of certain information is not apparent, then user’s consent should be obtained;
  • Provide and Offer Choices: Tools should be easy to find for users to make informed choices;
  • Honor Privacy Promises: Honor practices and promises made regarding security practices;
  • Protect Children’s Privacy: Mobile apps that are specifically designed for children may have additional requirements under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA);
  • Only Collect Sensitive Information with Consent: The FTC stressed the importance of obtaining user consent before collecting any sensitive data—such as, medical, financial or precise geolocation data; and
  • Keep User Data Secure: The FTC references other obligations under the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act as reminders of obligatory standards to maintain reasonable security practices.