Mobile applications are a mystery to some. Even developers and experienced programmers seemed surprised to find applications copying data from address books in smartphones, where sensitive data gets kept. It's too easy to capture personal identifiable information, even when keeping security in mind.
Many company execs don't think the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has addressed this issue. That's what keeps ad networks, ad exchanges, and data companies like eXelate from getting into the mobile targeting business.
"It's unclear the best ways to target consumers on mobile devices," said Damian Garbaccio, chief revenue officer at eXelate. "We don't want to get involved with personally identifiable information and need to know what being classified as PII. TRUSTe and others are hashing it out to determine what's permissible."
Online privacy remains one of the more debatable issues. About 10% of U.S. adults report being worry-free regarding their online privacy, compared with 21% who worry frequently about their digital privacy, and 23% who always worry, according to online privacy service company TRUSTe.
MMA Global CEO Greg Stuart said the organization hired him a little more than a year ago and now there is a committee working on all aspects of mobile privacy and targeting. "It's a big deal, and you're absolutely right to hear about concerns," he said. "We're also doing privacy work around location services, as well as unique identifiers."
The key guidelines cover core privacy principles in what the MMA considers "consumer-friendly language" for developers, and ways to inform users on how data is obtained and used. The guidelines call attention to applications that collect precise real-time location information, whether or not third parties can see or have access to the data, and opt-out rights for consumers.