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February 22, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
Lisa Gardiner (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the author of the state’s online privacy law, today praised Attorney General Kamala Harris for the plan she announced Wednesday to bring the millions of users of mobile device applications, called “apps,” under the law’s protection.

“Kudos to Attorney General Harris,” said Simitian, “for her insistence that mobile apps, many of which collect personal information, must comply with the same privacy law that applies to Web sites. A good law on the books is only as good as the enforcement behind it. The Attorney General has stepped up to remind the developers of these emerging technologies that the law applies to them, too.”

Simitian authored the Online Privacy and Disclosure Act of 2003, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, which requires any commercial Web site or online service that collects personal information to conspicuously post a privacy policy, and to then abide by the terms of the policy it posts.

Attorney General Harris on Wednesday also announced an agreement with the six major platforms for mobile apps, Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion, under which they would work with the tens of thousands of developers of apps to make them aware of the law and improve compliance with it. As part of the agreement (and consistent with Simitian’s legislation), customers will be able to access the privacy policy before deciding whether to put the app on their device.

“My goal back in 2003 was simple: Make sure folks doing business online knew what their privacy protections were, and make sure those guarantees were honored,” Simitian said. “Now the explosion in the use of mobile devices and the hundreds of thousands of apps for them present a new threat to consumer privacy. These apps must be subject to the law in the same way Web sites are, as the Attorney General has rightly concluded.”

According to The Attorney General’s office, Apple and Google house approximately 1 million mobile applications, up from just 600 when they first launched in 2008. The Attorney General’s office cited a Wall Street Journal story that reported that of the 101 top apps, 56 transmitted a mobile phone’s unique identifier, 47 reported its location, and five collected and sent age, gender and other details. Forty-five of those apps had no privacy policy.

Simitian chairs the Senate Select Committee on Privacy, and was recognized in 2003 by Scientific American magazine as one of the “Scientific American 50 Leaders in Technology” for his privacy legislation.

For more information on the Online Privacy and Disclosure Act of 2003, Assembly Bill 68, visit