Congressman touts draft bill aimed at mobile app privacy

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson unveils a draft bill that would require developers to disclose how they gather personal data and let users delete all their stored data.

A new draft bill published today aims to increase privacy for mobile app users.

Led by U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), the bill aims to legally require app developers to publicize how they gather information and also let users request deletion of their stored data.

To create the draft language for the bill, Johnson and his Web-based initiative, AppRights, held meetings with members of the Internet community, public-interest groups, app developers, and other industry stakeholders. Dubbed "The Application Privacy, Protection, and Security Act of 2013," or the APPS Act, the bill "addresses the public's growing concern with data collection on mobile devices."

Several politicians have been working on tightening app privacy over the past few years. In California, the attorney general issued a set of mobile app privacy protection guidelines under the California Online Privacy Protection Act last week. U.S. Sen. Al Franken has also pressured tech companies like Google and Apple to require that apps clearly detail their privacy policies.

The APPS Act would obligate developers to disclose to users the terms and conditions around the collection, use, storage, and sharing of user data. Additionally, apps would have to be built to allow users to say they no longer wanted to use the app and "to the extent practicable, to delete any personal data collected by the application that is stored by the developer."

The people working on the APPS Act are currently listening to suggestions on the bill's draft language and will update it accordingly. According to the current language, the Federal Trade Commission would head enforcement of the law and state attorneys general could bring suits against those who break it. It's not yet clear when the bill will be introduced to Congress as possible legislation.