2012 Mobile Marketing Guide Released by FTC in Time for Holidays

Yesterday I wrote about what options subscription and paid content sites had in terms of mobile strategy. Coincidentally, this week also saw the release

Yesterday I wrote about what options subscription and paid content sites had in terms of mobile strategy.

Coincidentally, this week also saw the release of the Federal Trade Commission’s Mobile Marketing Guide, in time for the 2012 holiday season (If you’re looking for great holiday marketing ideas, check out our post on Selling Gift Subscriptions).

Once again, the FTC is reminding mobile app creators to be transparent about data practices and build privacy considerations in from the start. This isn’t new, as legal expert Lisa Dubrow recently discussed the same issues in a Webinar on data collection crackdowns by the FTC for our sister site, Subscription Site Insider.

But what Dubrow didn’t explicitly mention is the use of new geolocation technology. This is becoming a more popular feature in apps, and the FTC explicitly warns app developers to “collect sensitive information with consent,” including “precise geolocation information.”

Subscription sites need to be aware of this, especially in light of an appellate court ruling that said that mobile users who download geolocation apps “lack a reasonable expectation of privacy in the inherent external locatability of a tool that he or she bought.” This may lead some retailers and app creators to believe the courts have given them full license to track users behavior without consent, but they would be wrong.

Instead, the FTC guidelines and appellate court rulings should be translated thus: App creators should get explicit consent to collect geolocation information from users, but once users consent and download an app, app creators and marketing teams can track a phone’s location according to the app’s terms of use.

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