As we have previously reported,  the Department of Commerce privacy white paper, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy, sets forth baseline principles for a consumer privacy bill of rights, which can serve as a template for comprehensive privacy protections. Those principles – individual control; transparency; respect for context, security, access and accuracy; focused collection; and accountability – track the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs). Commerce’s report calls upon interested stakeholders to participate in forums to develop legally enforceable codes of conduct based on these principles. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) convened stakeholder meetings July 12, August 22 and August 29 that began to tackle the first issue for the codes of conduct, mobile application transparency.

NTIA is using a polling approach whereby concepts are raised by the stakeholders, and then the group votes in a non-binding poll to determine which concepts should be tackled first, and which are lower priority and can be set aside to address later. Though there was much discussion about the effectiveness of this methodology, on July 12 the multi-stakeholder group identified many elements of mobile application transparency that should be advanced in a code of conduct. The August 22 meeting focused more on the approach to the meetings and process for moving forward, and the August 29 meeting returned to the issues at hand.

At the outset of the August 29 meeting, the stakeholders were asked to vote on the substantive elements related to mobile application transparency that they believed should be worked on first for the codes of conduct. The stakeholders who participated in the meeting were almost unanimous in their selection of the definition of a “mobile application” as being the most important element to tackle first. In addition, the multi-stakeholder group believes that defining the scope of the recommendations and ensuring that recommendations are technologically neutral and platform agnostic, are very important elements to address at the outset.

In addition to discussing which elements of mobile application transparency deserved attention, the group discussed the scheduling of briefings from application developers, others familiar with application technology, and those who could speak to the current self-regulatory standards. Such briefings would level the knowledge playing field between stakeholders, and facilitate a discussion about the definition of mobile application and common practices of mobile app data use.

The NTIA is blogging about the meetings, and the stakeholders have set up a website to allow all interested stakeholders to share ideas and information, and comment on the process. As the meetings and forums progress, we will continue to report updates and highlights.