Rep. Johnson Pitches APPS Act As Privacy Rights Baseline

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) has asked the President to keep Johnson's APPS Act (H.R. 1913) in mind as it continues to try and come up with legislation to backstop its privacy bill of rights, including the mobile app privacy Johnson's bill targets.

"It is time to move forward with the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights through legislation," he said, "I ask that you keep the APPS Act in mind when looking for legislative solutions to consumer protection on mobile devices.

In a letter to the White House, Johnson asked that his bill be considered as the "basis for comprehensive privacy legislation.

The goal of the bill — the Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act of 2013 — is to provide for more transparency, user control and security for user data collected by mobile applications. It requires clear notice of the terms of use, including any sharing of that data with third parties and affirmative consent of the users, as well as a mechanism for withdrawing that consent that will stop the data collection.

The Federal Trade Commission would be authorized to enforce violations of the Act as unfair and deceptive practices.

Those are all underlying goals of the Administration effort, which was launched back in 2010. It has been trying to come up with industry consensus on those rights and responsibilities, but has also been pushing Congress to enshrine them in law so they will be enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission.

Currently, the FTC can only enforce the voluntary principles if a company pledges to abide by them then reneges on that promise.

After months of sometimes contentious meetings, a multistakeholder process to try to come up with mobile app guidelines resulted in a draft mobile app code of conduct released in July. It was supported by online publishers, but some consumer group participants abstained and complained about the process and the result.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.