As U.S. regulators and lawmakers push to see more privacy policies take hold in the mobile apps space, it appears app developers (and their lawyers) are taking note. Between September 2011 and June 2012 the Future of Privacy Forum think tank found a big spike in the percentage of top-selling apps sold for Apple and Google devices that incorporate privacy policies for user data, according to a new study.
Between Apple Inc. and Google Inc.’s respective platforms for apps, customers download more than 1 billion apps each month.
Several app-focused regulatory developments occurred this year. In February, the Federal Trade Commission released a report that showed many apps aimed at children still lack privacy policies. That same month, the California Attorney General Kamala Harris reached an agreement with developers and platforms concerning compliance with the state’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which mandates that web companies inform California residents about how their personal identifying information is collected.
Facebook recently signed onto that agreement, as well, joining Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Research in Motion, and Hewlett-Packard.
“This study concludes that app developers have begun to heed the call for privacy policies,” the report states.
The report examined the 150 most popular apps across the Apple, Google, and Amazon platforms. Half of the apps were free and half were paid.
What accounts for that difference? “Free apps are more likely to have been required by an ad network to disclose tracking practices,” the authors say.
So while the authors note that app companies still have a long way to go to reach full compliance, the stats show that “app developers are making significant improvements toward complying with California law by posting privacy policies.”