Sen. Al Franken Calls For Mandatory Privacy Policies From All iOS & Android Apps

There’s been a lot of attention paid to mobile privacy recently, especially following the accusation that iOS apps are tracking users’ locations.

Today, Senator Al Franken has released a letter targeted at Apple and Google that calls for the creation of mandatory privacy policies from all apps offered via Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market.  The formal request comes after Franken’s recent judiciary subcommittee hearing on mobile tech privacy earlier this month.

In the letter, Franken requests that Apple and Google “commit to requiring that all applications in the Apple App Store and the Android App Market have clear and understandable privacy policies,” as a “simple first step towards further protecting your users’ privacy.”  He points out that while some apps already include a privacy policy, they represent only a very small fraction of the apps currently available.  In fact, a recent study by TRUSTe and Harris Interactive found that less than 20 percent of the top 340 paid apps being used on smartphones included a link to a privacy policy.

Franken argues that “there is a greater need for transparency and disclosure for the collection and sharing of all personal information [emphasis in the original],” but requests that “at a minimum,” apps that make use of location data specifically be required to “provide privacy policies that clearly specify what kind of location information is gathered from users, how that information is used, and how it is shared with third parties.”