March 14, 2013

Watch This. Your App Will Thank You for It.

Consumer Advertising Law Blog

As a complement to its Marketing Your Mobile App guide (which we blogged about here) and its focus on the mobile marketplace, the FTC released a 5-minute video to help app developers comply with truth-in-advertising and policy standards.

To avoid false or misleading claims about your app, the FTC recommends:

  • Telling the truth about what your app does.
  • Having a reasonable basis for the claims you make about the app. The level of proof this requires varies. For example, health-related claims generally require competent and reliable scientific evidence, which could mean clinical studies.
  • Clearly and conspicuously disclosing important information about your app (i.e., not buried in fine print or hidden behind vague links). This may include important terms and conditions for your app, risk information or limitations on use, or clarifying information necessary to avoid making a misleading claim.
  • Looking at your app from the perspective of a reasonable consumer, when evaluating your app against these recommendations.
The video also provides several privacy recommendations:
  • Practice privacy by design by incorporating privacy concepts throughout the app's lifecycle. When setting defaults, ask whether a reasonable consumer would expect such information to be collected by your app as the default.
  • Be clear and transparent about what data the app collects and uses, and what you do with the data -- and live up to the promises you make.
  • Offer consumers choices about their privacy, and get affirmative consent to collect sensitive information, such as medical, financial, and geolocation information, or before making material changes to your privacy practices.
  • Protect consumer's privacy by taking reasonable precautions to known security threats, limiting access to data to a need-to-know basis, limiting the data collected, and safely disposing of data when it is no longer needed.

While there is nothing earth-shattering in the video, it is a short and informative summary of consumer protection principles applicable to mobile apps that is well worth app developers' time. If anything, the video illustrates FTC's continued interest in mobile app marketing, which may signal greater enforcement in the coming months.

© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2013 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.


Matthew Shultz
Matthew Shultz
Washington, DC
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