US lawmakers introduce apps privacy bill

The APPS Act would require app developers to obtain consent before collecting personal data

New legislation introduced by a group of U.S. lawmakers would require mobile application developers to obtain consent from consumers before collecting their personal data and to secure the data they collect.

The Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act, introduced by Representative Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, and other lawmakers, would also require app developers to maintain privacy policies. The bill would allow consumers to tell app developers to quit collecting or to remove their personal data when they stop using the apps.

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"Many consumers do not know that their data is being collected," Johnson said while announcing the APPS Act on the floor of the House of Representatives. "There must be common-sense rules of the road for this emerging challenge."

Several lawmakers and privacy groups have raised concerns in recent months about the amount of personal data some mobile apps collect.

Johnson solicited ideas from developers and the public before introducing the legislation, he said. He launched AppRights.us in July to hear ideas about mobile privacy, he said.

The bill would allow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to sue app developers who don't comply with the law for unfair or deceptive trade practices. State attorneys general also could bring civil cases against developers.

Privacy advocate Consumer Watchdog praised the legislation. "Mobile apps have become the Wild West of the Internet," John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director, said in an email.A The bill "will give consumers the ability to understand what happens to their data and some control over its use."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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