The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") has composed guidelines to assist mobile app developers comply with FTC's truth-in-advertising standards and basic privacy principles. The FTC hopes the guidance, titled "Marketing Your Mobile App: Get It Right from the Start," will help new app developers build compliance from the outset of the development process and remind established businesses of their ongoing legal obligations to protect privacy and follow advertising regulations. The guidelines are broken into two sections: truthful advertising and privacy. For advertising, the guidelines urge app developers to (1) have "competent and reliable" evidence to back up any objective claims made about an app and (2) ensure that clarifying disclosures about any claims are "clear and conspicuous." The FTC's privacy tips are more numerous and include guidelines on transparency about data practices, offering convenient choices for users on how to manage their personal information, maintaining a tight grip on stored user information, and protecting children's privacy. These guidelines follow increased activity in California on the mobile app and privacy front, which we reported on earlier this year.
TIP: The FTC's guidance on truthful advertising and privacy applies general, well-known legal principles to mobile app developers. Specific guidance issued by the FTC often presages investigations or enforcement actions against that industry. Mobile app developers may find themselves on the FTC's radar in short order.