In a letter to California's attorney general, the company said that its Facebook App Center, launched last month, would abide by a joint agreement that the state announced earlier this year with key mobile app distributors.
"The App Center provides a centralized place where our users can learn more about participating Facebook apps, read their privacy policies, and, where necessary, report problems," wrote Erin M. Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, in the letter. "We are committed to building transparency, control, and accountability into all of our products, and we believe that the App Center empowers users to learn about the policies that will apply to data collected when they use mobile apps included in the Facebook App Center and to make informed choices about which apps they wish to use."
[ Federal Trade Commission is weighing in on the privacy debate. See FTC Sets Consumer Data Collection Limits. ]
"The joint statement does not impose legal obligations [but] rather is an effort between the mobile app market companies and the AG to increase transparency and control over personal data in the mobile marketplace 'without unduly burdening innovative mobile platforms and application developers,'" said Karp, referencing the text of the joint statement.
Karp said businesses shouldn't treat California's mobile app privacy protection program as an outlier, as the state "and its robust tech community often serve as a thought leader providing legislation other states choose to implement." In addition, he said, the fact that Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and other technology giants have chosen to work with the state's attorney general signals that the technology industry is now taking "a proactive approach to consumer privacy legal compliance."
In part, that may be because states--and especially California--are getting much more proactive about consumers' online privacy rights, not least after revelations in recent years regarding the full extent to which online advertisers have been secretly tracking consumers.
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