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Online Publishers Endorse NTIA Mobile App Code

Count the Online Publishers Association, whose board
includes digital execs from broadcast and cable companies, among those who
support the National Telecommunications and Information Administration code of
conduct on mobile app privacy and transparency. Consumers Union, another
stakeholder in the process, gave a somewhat more muted salute to the new code,
but suggested it had potential to be additional, consumer-friendly

The code was released by NTIA Thursday as a final draft
after being voted on by stakeholders.

Some public interest groups were not happy with the result,
but OPA, which also participated in the process and voted for the code, was
squarely behind it.

"OPA strongly supports the need for App providers to be
transparent about their practices on the collection and use of their users'
data," the group said in a statement. "We support the NTIA 'Code Of
Conduct To Promote Transparency In Mobile App Practices Through Short Form
Notices' as it provides important guidance to app developers and providers as
they design and implement their privacy regime."

Consumers Union called the code the product of a "long
and difficult" negotiation and said it "could eventually"
produce short-form disclosures by app developers and publishers that would
provide consumers with greater transparency about the types of info apps were
collecting and sharing. But the group said that a comprehensive privacy answer
was still needed, including legislation. "This process took more than a
year to get to this point and it is only one piece of the puzzle," said
Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union.

Other consumer groups were less sanguine. Both the Center
for Digital Democracy and the Consumer Federation of America did not vote to
support the code and had major problems with it, as well as with the process.

The code is the first work product from an NTIA-backed
effort to adopt voluntary enforcement of the Administration's proposed privacy
"bill of rights." The White House would like legislation codifying
those rights, but in the interim is working on multistakeholder buy-in via
efforts like the code, which can be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission
under its unfair and deceptive practices authority, but only against those who
agree to abide by it, then don't. Without legislation, there is no enforcement
mechanism for those who do not employ it or agree to abide by it.

NTIA chief Larry Strickling sounded happy with the result.

"NTIA is pleased that today a diverse group of
stakeholders reached a seminal milestone in the efforts to enhance
consumer privacy on mobile devices," he said in a statement. "We encourage all
the companies that participated in the discussion to move forward to test the
code with their consumers.  I want to congratulate all of the
participants, who through their commitment and dedication have demonstrated the
promise and importance of the multistakeholder policy-making process."