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News Release

Global privacy guardians urge app marketplaces to make links to privacy policies mandatory

GATINEAU, Quebec, December 10, 2014 – The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is among 23 provincial and international privacy enforcement partners that are calling on app marketplaces to make it mandatory for mobile app developers to post links to privacy policies prior to download if they’re going to collect personal information.

The privacy authorities are raising the issue in an open letter to the operators of seven app marketplaces, including Google Play and the Apple App Store.

"App marketplaces are in a unique position to be able to convey key information to users prior to download – information that can include everything from an app’s size and version to the privacy policy of the developer behind it,” says Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

“Links to privacy policies on the app marketplace appear to be optional but we think developers that collect personal information should be required to provide a link. It’s why we’re calling on app marketplaces to take this next step.”

Commissioner Therrien says having privacy information prior to download is critical as it allows individuals to decide whether they are comfortable with the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information before the app is even on their device.

“Without this information, it’s difficult for individuals to provide meaningful consent,” he says.

The open letter was drafted jointly by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. Twenty-one other data protection authorities have signed on in support.

The joint recommendation follows a mobile app privacy sweep last spring by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) that found many popular mobile apps were seeking access to large amounts of personal information without adequately explaining how that information would be used.

The OPC, along with provincial and international partners, examined 1,211 mobile apps and found that 85 per cent of them failed to clearly explain how they would collect, use and disclose personal information.

About the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman and guardian of privacy in Canada. The Commissioner enforces two laws for the protection of personal information: the Privacy Act, which applies to the federal public sector; and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA ), Canada’s federal private sector privacy law.

See also information about the 2014 GPEN Mobile App Privacy Sweep:

News Release, Blog post, Backgrounder
Ten Tips for Communicating Privacy Practices to Your App's Users

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For more information, please contact:

Tobi Cohen, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

NOTE: Journalists are asked to please send requests for interviews or further information via e-mail.

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