In what seems to be an ever-growing trend of Federal oversight of online and tech privacy issues — following last week’s FTC charges against Google for deceptive practices and last month’s FTC charges against Legacy Learning Systems for false advertising — the Federal Government now seems to have iPhone and Android App providers in its criminal cross-hairs. Financial Times reports:
Pandora Media, which produces a free streaming music service, said that it had received a subpoena in connection with the inquiry, but that it had been told that it was not “a specific target of the investigation”. It added that it believed the investigation was “industry-wide” and covered “numerous other smartphone applications”.
The suspicion of criminal behaviour in relation to the data collected by smartphone apps will greatly add to the pressure on internet companies over their privacy practices. Written by independent developers, such apps are generally lightly regulated, and companies like Google rely on complaints from users before taking action against them.
More than ever, 2011 seems to be the year that Privacy takes center stage in internet law issues. Content producers, and now even content publishers like Android and Apple, will need to reevaluate their policies and their review mechanisms for ensuring the privacy safety in their software. Small companies should likewise review the relevant Federal privacy laws and regulations.
In addition to the myriad of state statutory and common law regarding privacy, companies should familiarize themselves with applicable federal statutes dealing with privacy (examples: 18 USC § 2510 et seq.; 47 USC §605; 18 USC §2710; 18 USC § 2702(a); 12 USC §3401 et seq. ).
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for an article analyzing the federal privacy laws most commonly broken by modern applications and technology.
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