July 10, 2012
Mobile Privacy Standards to be Discussed this Week
In this digital age, our smartphones tend to know more information about us than say, our great Aunt Suzie. From your name and location to the interests of you and your closest friends; all of this information is readily available to advertisers and marketers the moment you accept the terms and agreements of certain mobile applications.
The accessibility of such data has sparked a continued dispute between consumer groups and online marketing firms over the access of user information via mobile applications.
On July 12, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will host the first of several meetings in an effort to develop new codes of conduct for handling private consumer data on the internet and on mobile networks. The meeting will focus primarily on mobile application security and provide a chance for industry stakeholders to voice their concerns regarding access to private consumer data.
The upcoming meetings stem from a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights released by the Obama Administration in February of this year. Instead of calling for new privacy standards, Obama’s Bill of Rights calls for a multi-stakeholder process to develop general rules and regulations. The process has generated skepticism about whether this system will incorporate the desires of all publics fairly, most importantly the consumers.
The start of the NTIA meetings could not come soon enough. Recent episodes of mobile applications illegally downloading user information has heightened the need for defined mobile privacy standards. The issue of mobile security now goes beyond simply the applications to also include the advertisements shown within them.
As we watch to see if an outcome can be achieved at the NTIA meetings, it will be interesting to see how these standards will reflect on the corporate side of the equation. Right now, companies must decide for themselves which security features to implement for their employees. This increasingly means creating mobile security applications that encrypt, archive, and protect company data on an employee's smartphone will likely become a corporate necessity.