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FTC moves on mobile privacy guidelines

Feb. 2, 2013 at 11:23 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said software developers for mobile devices should adopt stronger policies to safeguard the privacy of individuals.

In a non-binding staff report approved in a 4-0 vote by FTC commissioners, the agency said developers of software and applications for mobile should have do-not-track safeguards built into their programs.

The New York Times reported Saturday the FTC also announced a fine of $800,000 imposed on a 2-year-old social networking platform called Path that allows users to chronicle their lives with postings and uploaded photographs and share their entries with friends.

The company was fined for collecting personal information on users under age 13 and not disclosing how personal information would be used.

"There was a period of time where our system was not automatically rejecting people who indicated that they were under 13," the company said in a statement.

The company said it would pay the fine and destroy information it had collected, but the agreement with the FTC does not include an admission of guilt. The company had "discovered and fixed this sign-up process qualification and took further action by suspending any underage accounts that had mistakenly been allowed to be created," even before it was contacted by the FTC about the issue, the Times reported.

Although the policy report is non-binding, "this says if you're outside the recommended behavior, you're at a higher risk of enforcement action," said attorney Mary Ellen Callahan, a former chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

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