Real Time Communications Industry News

TMCNet:  EDITORIAL: State attorney general is ahead of the mobile privacy curve [Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)]

[January 14, 2013]

EDITORIAL: State attorney general is ahead of the mobile privacy curve [Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)]

(Merced Sun-Star (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 14--With all the amazing apps for smart phones and tablets, users' privacy can get lost in the buzz. California Attorney General Kamala Harris deserves credit for keeping her eye on this important issue.

Thursday, her office issued privacy recommendations for mobile app developers, following up on its privacy principles for mobile devices and operating systems that leading companies including Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft adopted last year.

The bottom line is that consumers should know what personal information they're sharing and with whom, and have informed consent. Mobile apps allow us to play games, find a nearby restaurant, monitor our heart rate and much, much more. But, as the attorney general notes, there are particular privacy challenges with mobile devices that go beyond those with laptops and desktop computers.

Smart phones are almost always on and with us. Mobile devices can store many more kinds of data -- information such as phone call logs, text messages, even locations where we've been. The apps market is exploding, with more than 1 million available and 1,600 being introduced daily, some without due consideration to privacy. Smaller screens on phones and tablets make sharing privacy policies more difficult.

The most intriguing recommendation is for special alerts to pop up before sensitive or unexpected information is collected, so you can opt out of the app. That would be far more helpful than lengthy privacy statements that few of us take the trouble to read.

Another key recommendation is that an app should not collect personal information that isn't needed for its basic functions. That would lower costs and liability for developers, while reducing the chance of a breach that would disclose sensitive data, Harris' office says.

While these are voluntary "best practices" that go beyond existing law, the industry had input and has largely been willing to go along so far. While less than 50 percent of apps had privacy policies when Harris issued the principles early last year, nearly 85 percent do now, her office says.

Harris has also demonstrated she will go after those who don't comply with the state's online privacy law. In October, she sent warning letters to about 100 businesses. In December, she sued Delta Air Lines for not having a privacy policy for its smart phone app.

It's good for Californians that Harris is ahead of officials in other states on this issue. Besides privacy concerns, jobs are at stake because a big chunk of the industry is based in our state. Too much regulation can raise costs for consumers and get in the way of entrepreneurs.

"These recommendations strike a responsible balance between protecting consumers' personal information and fostering the continued growth of the innovative app economy," Harris said in a statement.

Some watchdog groups want Harris and other state officials to go further and mandate privacy rights for mobile users. If Harris' step-by-step approach works -- if companies follow these recommendations -- it may not have to come to that.

___ (c)2013 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.) Visit the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

[ Back To Real Time Communications's Homepage ]

Featured Videos

GenView Real Time Session Manager Demo

Session-based VoIP and rich media services such as video can place unique demands on the network.


Contact GENBAND about the SPiDRâ„¢ WebRTC Gateway by clicking here.

A videoconference that calls you

On the busiest of days, who has time to stop and search for that bridge information, to have to dial or hope the link works...only to wait for the chairperson to arrive?

Call Grabber Demo

Move calls seamlessly between phones, soft clients and mobile devices at the push of a button.

Hosted Unified Communications

GENBAND's Hosted Unified Communications is a SMART OFFICE™ solution that enables voice over broadband to Business users, providing flexible migration from legacy services, supporting full regulatory features, and offering advanced services.

Featured Whitepapers

Is Your Network Ready for the Internet of Everything?

The telephone industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation that began with the introduction of IP-based data networks in the early 1990s and then with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in the late 1990s, and it now includes all forms ofvoice, video, and messaging communications.

Building a Secure and Scalable Multimedia IP Exchange

As fixed and mobile operators increasingly move to IP-based networks, the complexity required to interconnect these networks grows dramatically. Faced with increasing competition from all corners and constant challenge to grow revenues, operators are struggling with the variety and disparities in partner and customer networks.

How Carriers Can Optimize for LTE Roaming

Connectivity between mobile network operators (MNO) in 4G LTE is much more complex than it was in legacy networks.This complexity is primarily due to the change in focus. LTE is not a voice-focused roaming environment, but rather a datacentric environment.

Featured Case Studies

CASE STUDY: Real Time Communications Made Easy Via The Mobile Web

HubRTC offers the world's first WebRTC communication as a service to small and medium businesses, combining browser-based voice, video and messaging over WiFi that works on personal computers and Android smartphones and tablets. Their basic and premium solutions work with existing PBX applications servers, and support rich feature sets including voice mail and visual voice mail, audio and video conferencing, all for a fraction of the cost of old fashioned "phone systems." They have combined their Real Time Communications experts with software, devices and accessories, and cloud platforms to deliver a true office-on-the-run.

CASE STUDY: TW Telecom Accelerates Market Adoption of SIP Trunking Services

tw telecom is one of the top three largest providers of Business Ethernet in the US, connecting approximately 20,000 commercial buildings and third-party data centers to its national fiber network.

CASE STUDY: Embedding Real-Time Communications Into Digital Interactive Publishing Platforms

X-Factor Communications (XFC) is a premium provider of easy-to-use, interactive digital media software and services delivering single point publishing of Mass Notifications, advisories, emergency messages, rich informational content and advertising to any connected device.

Featured Webinars

WebRTC Applications for Service Providers using GENBAND'S SPiDR Gateway

GENBAND's SPiDR WebRTC Gateway provides an intelligent bridge between SIP/IMS based VoIP networks and the open ecosystem of the Internet. WebRTC holds great promise to revolutionize the nature of our daily communications. But what should you, as a service provider, be doing today to take advantage of this movement?

Best Practices in Deploying Hosted IP Telephony

Speaker: Sara Hughes and Mitch Layman

LTE, How Can You Accelerate The Payback? Diameter Signaling Controller

Speaker: Ashish Jain - Director Solutions Marketing