NTIA to address mobile privacy during July 12 meeting

The agency kicks off its privacy push with a meeting likely to address mobile privacy transparency

The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration will step up work on an effort to develop mobile privacy standards on July 12, when the agency meets with mobile carriers, app developers and other stakeholders in the first of a series of meetings on online privacy.

One of the likely discussions during the so-called multistakeholder process on mobile privacy will be the transparency of the privacy practices of mobile apps. The NTIA requested comments on privacy push earlier this year, and the majority of comments addressed mobile app transparency, the agency said in a press release.

The NTIA chose to tackle mobile privacy "as an initial topic because it is a privacy challenge that affects many consumers yet is discrete enough to be addressed in a reasonable period of time," NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling wrote in a blog post. "Many of you agreed. We expect the stakeholder experience in developing a code of conduct on this topic will inform future efforts to develop codes that address other privacy issues."

In February, members of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration announced plans to begin working with businesses and other groups to draft privacy codes of conduct and to push Congress to pass legislation containing a privacy bill of rights.

Mobile phones "pose direct privacy challenges," including disclosing privacy information on a small display, the NTIA said. Many people who commented on the NTIA privacy process also suggested that "practices surrounding the disclosure of consumer data privacy practices do not appear to have kept pace with rapid developments in technology and business models," the agency said in its press release.

The Software and Information Industry Association, a trade group, applauded the NTIA for moving forward on the privacy meetings. The NTIA's process "can contribute significantly to the continuation of interoperable data privacy regimes," including the European Union's privacy efforts, Ken Wasch, SIIA's president, said in a statement.

SIIA supports NTIA's push toward voluntary, but enforceable, privacy codes of conduct, he added,

 The NTIA's July 12 meeting will be open to the public and will be webcast, the NTIA said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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