TrustArc Blog

Got mobile privacy? Now you can.

September 27, 2010

By Fran Maier
President
TRUSTe

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Image Source

Over the past few months we’ve ran a series of posts on this blog discussing the mobile platform and its privacy implications and challenges. Today, I’m happy to announce that after careful development and testing TRUSTe has unveiled a new mobile app and mobile website privacy certification product that’s compatible with all major mobile operating systems. We have some great early adopters on board including GoDaddy, WebMd and Yelp. You can read more about the announcement in our press release here.

Why did we develop this program?

Consumers want online privacy protections whether they’re browsing from their computer or from their phone. Businesses, moreover, stand to benefit from building privacy into their mobile products and platforms. While mobile commerce is undeniably booming there is abundant evidence showing that consumer privacy concerns are holding the space back from its full potential. Among other compelling statistics we’ve referenced in previous posts it’s worth reiterating that a 2009 KPMG survey of more than 4,000 mobile device users found that 87% were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very concerned’ about their privacy on mobile devices.

On a very basic level this consumer concern makes sense – despite incredible advances in technology in the past two years, mobile phones still offer us ‘reduced’ online experiences when compared to computer-based browsing. Mobile screens are smaller and there are often fewer features, leaving a consumer to wonder: if the size and features are reduced, are the privacy and security levels reduced too? Fears like this have impeded growth in this space and by implementing strong privacy standards and building consumer trust we can effect higher adoption rates.

What does TRUSTe mobile certification entail?

Mobile certified apps and websites must meet new program requirements we’ve developed that exceed our core privacy program and address new privacy sensitive technologies and practices on the mobile platform, like GPS-enabled, location aware services.

Companies with mobile products certified by TRUSTe can also display an innovative mobile privacy policy format we’ve developed. We took the standard privacy policy format – an often dense and lengthy textual document – and converted it into a form appropriate for the mobile phone (be sure to check out screenshots below). With a new, layered privacy policy approach, when consumers click on a mobile privacy policy links of TRUSTe-certified companies they can view an abbreviated, graphical privacy policy with an intuitive app-like interface.

We’ve also created a miniaturized version of our privacy seal, suitable for use on mobile apps or mobile websites. We believe that the transformative power of our privacy seal in traditional online contexts will persist in the mobile arena and help increase mobile transactions like application downloads and mobile website registration. Our seal serves as a powerful reminder of the consumer privacy standards that have solidified TRUSTe’s position as a leader in the online privacy space and we are excited to make our debut in the mobile market.

Screenshots from our new mobile privacy policy format:

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