A GAGGLE of Europe's biggest mobile operators together with the GSMA trade association have come up with a set of global guidelines to improve mobile apps privacy.
The Privacy Design Guidelines for Mobile Application Development have been drafted to provide users with the laudable goal of "better transparency, choice and control" over how apps use their personal information. Mobile operators in Europe will implement the guidelines for their own branded applications.
Mobile operators in Europe, including Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom - Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera and Vodafone indicated they are now starting to implement these guidelines for their own operator-branded mobile applications.
The new guidelines build upon the Mobile Privacy Principles introduced last year and describe the way in which consumers' privacy should be protected when they are using mobile applications and services that access, use or collect their personal information.
According to GSMA, the Mobile App Privacy Design Guidelines are aimed at all those in the mobile app or service delivery chain who are responsible for collecting and processing personal information about mobile users, including developers, device makers, OS companies, mobile operators, advertisers and analytic companies.
"The guidelines encourage the development, delivery and operation of mobile applications that put users first and help them understand what personal information a mobile application may access, collect and use; what the information will be used for and why; and how users may exercise choice and control over this use," the GSMA said in a statement.
The trade association added that it hoped other parties in the mobile industry will follow the lead of mobile operators and consider how they can adopt the guidelines.
Anne Bouverot, director general of GSMA acknowledged that the recent explosion in mobile apps is leading to "significant privacy concerns". She said, "The Privacy Guidelines which are being implemented now are an important first step, but to effect real change, there needs to be close collaboration between the mobile industry, internet industry, civil society and regulators."
In a parallel move, GSMA also announced that North America's largest mobile operators have launched a scheme to combat mobile spam. The GSMA Spam Reporting Service (SRS) powered by Cloudmark technology is being rolled out by AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
SRS correlates data all participating networks and provides operators with live, online reports that flag attacks in progress so operators can defend against the spammers.
"Around the world, increasing numbers of consumers are falling victim to spam. Mobile network operators are working hard defending against these threats to continue to protect the quality of the mobile service and reinforce subscriber trust," said Michael O'Hara, GSMA chief marketing officer. µ