Rep. Hank Johnson’s Apps Privacy Bill Gaining Bipartisan Support

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There's growing evidence that privacy is not a partisan issue. Representative Joe Barton, a conservative Republican from Texas, has signed on to be a co-sponsor of Rep. Hank Johnson's bill to increase consumer privacy protection on mobile devices.

Barton is the co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, eight members of which sent a letter last week asking Google tough questions about the impact on privacy that the intrusive wearable mobile device Google Glass will have.

Johnson's bill, H.R. 1913, is known as the Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act of 2013.  Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) was already a co-sponsor.  The bill would require app developers to maintain privacy policies, obtain consent from consumers before collecting data, and securely maintain the data they collect.

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.

 Some key provisions of the bill include:

 â€¨– 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.
 â€¨– 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.

The House of Representatives is more or less dysfunctional these days, but it is encouraging  when some members reach across the aisle on issues that matter to people like protecting their privacy. The APPS Act could well help tame what has become the Internet's Wild West, the world of mobile apps.

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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