Consumer Watchdog Backs Rep. Hank Johnson’s Bi-partisan Apps Privacy Bill

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WASHINGTON – Consumer Watchdog today praised Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) for introducing a bi-partisan bill that would increase consumer privacy protection on mobile devices.
The bill, H.R. 1913, is known as the Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act of 2013. Among its co-sponsors is Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH).  The bill would require app developers to maintain privacy policies, obtain consent from consumers before collecting data, and securely maintain the data they collect.
“Mobile apps have become the Wild West of the Internet,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director.  “The APPS Act of 2013 will give consumers the ability to understand what happens to their data and some control over its use.  This is a significant and important step forward in protecting consumers' privacy.”
The APPS Act would be enforced through either the Federal Trade Commission under provisions of the FTC Act prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices, or by a state’s attorney general through a federal civil action.  The FTC would promulgate regulations required by the Act within one year of its enactment.
A year ago Rep. Johnson launched a website,, to gather information for his apps privacy bill. “I launched AppRights, an online effort to build mobile privacy legislation from the bottom up. I learned from CISPA and SOPA, and I wanted to build something the right way,” he said.
The APPS Act would offer a safe harbor for companies that comply with an enforceable code of conduct agreed upon through the National Telecommunication and Information Agency’s multi-stakeholder process and approved by the FTC through a rulemaking.
Some key provisions of the bill include:
— Before collecting personal data from a consumer, a developer must notify the consumer of its terms for collecting, using, sharing, storing personal data, and obtain the consumer’s consent.
— The FTC would also promulgate regulations to specify the format, manner, and timing of the notice.
— The developer would be required to disclose categories of personal data collected and the purposes of its use, as well as the categories of third parties that use the personal data after it is collected by the app.

— Developers would be required to maintain a data-retention policy that notifies the user how long data is stored, and how to delete or opt out of data collection.
Other co-sponsors of the APPS Act are Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
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Visit Rep. Hank Johnson’s website at

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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