California’s New App Privacy Guidelines – An MSP’s Guide

Scott Calonico

mobile devicesLess than five years ago, “mobile apps” was a meaningless term to the majority of non-technical people.

In a world where individuals have now downloaded over 50 billion apps via the Apple and Android app stores, it’s hard to believe that the Apple App Store itself was only launched as recently as July 2008.

Practicality has now begun to catch up with this runaway trend. The state of California has just issued a set of privacy guidelines for developers to use when producing mobile apps.

The guidelines encourage developers to build privacy notices into applications, to clearly define what personal data apps collect and store, and to comply fully with payment card industry security standards.

Many mobile device users would probably be surprised by just how much information many apps gather, some of which is really not essential for the apps to run as designed. Sharing a contact list with an app vendor could have significant privacy implications, especially if contacts are synchronized with company servers and contain information that is subject to data protection laws. Yet, the majority of users just happily tap “yes,” “ok,” or “next.”

If you run an MSP business, these new guidelines have no immediate implications – after all, they are, at this point, guidelines and not law. However, it’s fair to say that mobile security and privacy is rising to the top of many agendas, so it would be wise to take on board the following points, some of which could generate work and revenue:

Alert Your Clients

The publicity surrounding the new California guidelines should make it easy to bring your clients’ attention to mobile privacy.

  • You could suggest holding a staff session to raise awareness of some of the potential issues related to mobile privacy and high-risk apps.
  • Clients who have yet to implement mobile and Bring Your Own Device policies may also benefit from some renewed encouragement!

More Devices Mean More Monitoring

Clients wondering how to manage the inevitable rise in mobile devices, after a holiday season focused on iPad Minis and Nexus 7s, will probably begin to see the benefit of Mobile Device Management solutions. Now is a great time to get in there and begin to sell them.

Get Ahead Now

 If your MSP has a software development arm, it would make sense to start to follow the California guidelines. Getting ahead will result in less scrabbling around as and when the guidelines become law.

The full set of guidelines, from the California Department of Justice, can be found here in PDF format:

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