Your Mobile App’s Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions: What They Mean to Your Business and To Your Customers.

Just because it’s mobile doesn’t mean that advertising laws and regulations don’t apply! The need for a prominent disclosure of terms and conditions and a privacy policy in mobile apps is rapidly evolving, and dealers are at risk if they are using an app that doesn’t comply.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state of California are leading the charge when it comes to mobile app compliance; and although the law hasn’t yet caught up with such things as push notifications and location tracking, the big “push” is being put on the mobile app privacy front.

If you fail to remain compliant with in your mobile app, it can be costly. For instance, the FTC can seek civil penalties of up to $16,000 per privacy violation – measured by each consumer download – and the California attorney general is authorized to seek up to $2,500 per application download if privacy terms are not provided to California residents who download the application.

Mobile applications represent (or should) the ultimate advertising channel to provide consumers with choice. In other words, unlike a text message where consumers may not have provided prior express (and soon to be written) consent, a mobile application must be downloaded, and consumers have the choice at the device level to control how the application will perform.

In other words, with a mobile app, consumers have the choice as to whether push notifications are received and location tracking is engaged, etc. The only thing a consumer does not have direct control over is how his or her personal information is shared.

And with consumer and regulator concern being centered on the theft or misuse of personal information, privacy issues can reach far beyond the customer’s mobile device. A breach of privacy could mean losing your customers, and therefore your business.

DriverConnect, the dealer branded mobile app by DMEautomotive, is currently the only app provider that we’re aware of to prominently display privacy and other terms with in their mobile app. Upon the download of the app, the terms are displayed as a pop up – overtaking the screen. Terms are also always available in the “Tools” menu for view by the customer at any time.

It’s always important to take best practices advice directly from regulators. The FTC directs application developers and owners to tell the truth about what your application can do and don’t mislead about what it can’t do.

Always disclose key information clearly and conspicuously. That means putting the terms where consumers can see them, big enough to read and written so they can understand. Design and update the application with privacy in mind – don’t make it an afterthought—and any disclosure that would be included in a print advertisement should also be listed on an app-based advertisement.

Finally, be transparent. If you share consumer information, then say so. Tell consumers what information is collected and what is done with that information. And be sure to keep consumer information secure! Offer choices – allow consumers to opt-out of certain practices. But most importantly, honor your privacy promises.

*The information provided herein is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should always obtain the advice of independent legal counsel related to their own specific and unique circumstances.

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